Former African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe has been found guilty of sexual harassment by a party-appointed disciplinary committee, the ANC said on Friday.
“The committee found Goniwe guilty on charges related to abuse of office by trying to obtain sexual advantage from members or others, and charges related to bringing the ANC into disrepute,” spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama said in a statement.
His membership of the ANC was suspended for three years, and the penalty suspending his membership was also suspended for three years.
Goniwe was charged with abuse of office by trying to obtain sexual favours from parliamentary intern Nomawele Njongo on October 25 last year. One of President Thabo Mbeki’s strongest allies, Goniwe was then expelled from the party after its national disciplinary committee, headed by Kader Asmal, found him guilty of sexual harassment.
The committee included Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, Deputy Minister of Safety and Security Susan Shabangu and Limpopo Economic Development Minister Collins Chabane.
Although the committee said its decision was “binding and final”, the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) overturned the finding. The NEC ordered that Goniwe’s case be heard afresh and that he be reinstated as an ANC member.
“In the three years in which the suspension of the penalty is in force, should Goniwe be found guilty of any offence which brings the ANC into disrepute, then the original suspension of his membership shall come into effect,” Ngonyama said on Friday.
The Mail & Guardian in October reported party insiders as saying that the disgraced Goniwe, was being “protected” by a long and protracted disciplinary process so that he could attend the national conference in Polekwane as an ANC member.
“It is unheard of that disciplinary proceedings should last so many months — especially if you bear in mind that the man has been found guilty already by the ANC’s own disciplinary committee. It is extraordinary and it is simply an attempt to let the process continue until after the national congress. The president himself intervened because Goniwe is a strong political ally,” a senior ANC MP told the M&G at the time.
The suspension of the penalty that suspended Goniwe’s membership is conditional on him not holding office in any structure of the ANC for three years. He is also barred from being an ANC public representative for that period.
“During this time, Goniwe will perform such useful tasks as determined and assigned to him by the ANC Women’s League (should the league wish to do so) for a period of one year,” Ngonyama said.
The ANC constitution makes provision for any person found guilty in a disciplinary proceeding to appeal against the conviction or sentence to the next-highest body within 14 days from the date of sentencing.