- Forcing all those who were alleged to have committed serious crimes or who were charged will cause the ANC to die, a branch member and protest organiser said.
- At least one ANC province had met the deadline for handing up a list of those charged with crimes, while another said it was finalising its list.
- Party deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte is set to act in Secretary-General Ace Magashule's place should he heed party orders and step down by the end of the month.
The ANC will die if all members alleged to have committed serious crimes – including the party’s Secretary-General Ace Magashule – are forced to step aside, a protest organiser said on Friday.
Thabo Baleni from the party’s Belemond branch in the Free State said it was wrong for the party’s national executive committee to have arrived at the decision at its last meeting at the end of March. “We will not wish such to become effected,” he said.
Baleni led a number of party protesters to its Johannesburg headquarters, Luthuli House, on Thursday - the date set by Magashule for provincial secretaries to hand him lists of names of members charged with serious crimes, such as murder, rape, corruption, and fraud.
Magashule himself faces several charges of corruption and fraud in relation to a multimillion rand asbestos tender dating from 2014, when he was Free State premier.
While the protest took place in front of Luthuli House on Thursday, Magashule went to Nkandla to consult with former President Jacob Zuma about the ANC's orders to step aside. He is expected to speak to former President Thabo Mbeki next.
Baleni said the protesters presented a list of names of people alleged to have been involved in serious crimes, and, pointing to the guidelines as set out in a letter by Magashule earlier this week, and as resolved at the 2017 Nasrec conference, said if everyone who is alleged to have committed a crime should step down, "50% of the ANC would be affected by this".
Another communication by the national working committee, however, pointed to the refined guidelines as decided by the NEC, which says only those facing actual charges need step aside.
Baleni said the branches would have preferred that the 2017 resolution on stepping aside be refined at a national general council, which was due to have happened within 30 days of the conference.
Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, physical gatherings of that size – around 4 000 to 5 000 delegates – had been banned, and it hasn’t been possible to convene the council virtually.
It is not clear how many provincial secretaries met Thursday’s deadline, as party spokesperson Pule Mabe said:
The Eastern Cape’s Lulama Ncgukayitobi indicated that the province made the deadline while Limpopo’s Soviet Lekganyane said the process was complicated, even though the province’s list shouldn’t contain more than 10 names of members charged with serious crimes.
He said there were 566 branches in the province, and, “... our organisation can be so factionalised that people don’t tolerate a small mistake”. Therefore leaving off any names or including names that shouldn’t be on the list, could trigger an angry reaction.
"You then have to call the leadership in the region or the branch," he said, to verify that the names were correct.
"Some cases were withdrawn or postponed," he said, and some members were not completely truthful about the charges against them.
"You might have to call them to verify," he said. "Some of the challenges are that it could bring people into jeopardy with the positions they occupy either in the ANC or in government."
Lekganyane also responded to the leaked audio clips from the party’s national executive meetings and from a meeting between the party’s top six.
While it raised questions about the "quality of the member" attending virtual party meetings, he also admitted that finding privacy for these meetings can sometimes be difficult.
"If you hold meetings virtually, you don’t know [at] the end of the person attending your meeting, where is the person, or who is around. A person can decide to go sit at a local community hall and people sit around the device you are using."
He said when the video function was switched off, which frequently happened in areas with low reception, it wasn’t possible to see who else was at the meeting.
"That is what opens us to those weaknesses," he said.
The leaked recordings, one of which featured ANC deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, caused renewed tensions in the party.
Duarte in the recording is heard criticising judges and saying that a solution should be found for Zuma having to appear before the state capture inquiry.
Duarte slammed Magashule’s supporters for the recording, and said it was altered and used out of context.
There have been personal tensions between Duarte and Magashule about leadership style, and it blew up in January when Carl Niehaus, an ANC employee working in Magashule’s office, was served a notice of suspension for comments he made about Duarte.
The suspension never took effect.
Duarte is the official expected to step in should Magashule step aside by the end of the month – the deadline set for him by the NEC.
According to the ANC’s constitution, she is responsible for assisting the Secretary-general, "... and carry out the functions entrusted to the Secretary-General by the National Conference, the National Council, the NEC, or the NWC".
The Secretary-General is the most powerful full-time official in the party, and could also be tasked to stand in for the President, should something happen to him or her, and should the Deputy-President not be able to fulfil this role.