Secret meetings ahead of the ANC nomination process are being probed by the party's Gauteng executive, provincial secretary David Makhura says.
“The provincial executive committee (PEC) is unanimous in its view that members and leaders of the ANC in Gauteng will not attend secret caucuses allegedly being convened to discuss organisational matters,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.
There was no place for covert meetings because “the ANC is not underground, we are leading a democracy”.
Makhura would not give the names of those accused of attending such gatherings where it was believed nominations for top posts in the ANC were discussed.
“At this stage, we will not make any accusations against any NEC member before investigations are concluded,” Makhura said.
The PEC resolved at a meeting last week to continue to defend the party’s present leadership until its elective conference in Mangaung later this year.
It would respect the NEC’s decision that the nomination process would not begin until October.
While names of preferred individuals could not be discussed until then, the PEC was considering “what kind of team will help the ANC,” Makhura said.
This included the requirements which needed to be met to fulfil the ruling’s party’s organisational demands.
He said the PEC discussed allegations against provincial housing minister Humphrey Mmemezi relating to misuse of state funds and damage to an official vehicle. It welcomed the referral of the matter to the integrity commissioner and awaited a report on the matter by premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
In order to promote ethical behaviour in public office, the PEC resolved to establish its own integrity committee. Makhura said Mmemezi would need to appear before this committee, to be chaired by the party’s Gauteng veteran’s league head.
“The integrity committee will be an organisational mechanism for ANC members who face damaging allegations to present and explain themselves.”
It would be separate from formal government and legal processes and was aimed at determining how ethical conduct could be tightened within the party.
Makhura said the body would not act as a disciplinary committee but could refer matters to this structure if it found evidence of any wrongdoing.
Earlier, he discussed the PEC’s response to Brett Murray’s The Spear painting, which depicted President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.
While the “terrible portrait” had caused pain through its disregard for human dignity, it had opened up discussion on matters crucial to the practice of democracy.
“Leadership is about going beyond anger. What can we learn from this ... [It can] move our nation to a higher level.”
Makhura denied reports that PEC members had disagreed over the ANC’s response to the portrait. It concluded that the matter called for “honest debate” over the role of artists in nation building.
Makhura said conflict over The Spear contributed to a “re-racialisation” of South Africa, which could have “dangerous consequences”.
“We don’t want this to be a black and white issue ... It can undermine all the progress South Africa has made since 1994.”
While debate on the portrait was largely along racial lines, the PEC was primarily concerned with the threat the issue posed to transformation.
The ANC would “never take the view that the problem is whites”, or acknowledge simplistic notions that “blacks don’t understand art”, Makhura said.
Rather, the painting had allowed both sides of the debate to gain greater understanding.
As such, the ANC’s court action and planned march over the painting should not be misinterpreted to mean that those in public office should not face scrutiny.
“The artist should have been more sensitive,” Makhura said, adding that Murray had “dehumanised” himself by insulting Zuma’s dignity.
Makhura called on all ANC members in Gauteng to support a march, scheduled for Tuesday to the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, to convey disapproval of the painting. – Sapa