President Cyril Ramaphosa came up with a compromise when the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting was divided on the issue of leaders stepping aside from their positions while facing criminal charges or any allegations.
The issue came to a head at last weekend’s three-day meeting of the NEC, at which the so-called progressive forces were pushing for the party to ratify the Nasrec resolution that those who face serious allegations should step aside, pending the outcome of investigations.
The suggestion was opposed by a significant number of ANC leaders because it had serious implications for some leaders who are on the NEC who have been embroiled in controversy and scandal.
“The president said the problem with a blanket approach to stepping aside whenever someone is accused of a crime, is that if someone is caught speeding and they have to go to court, then they will have to step aside. We then decided to leave it to the officials to analyse how best to implement that thing. They will report back within a month,” said an NEC member, who cannot be named as they are not the spokesperson of the party.
This explains the post-NEC statement issued by the ANC in which the governing party resolved that those accused of corruption and other serious crimes “may be expected to step aside from their positions or responsibilities”.
It further said that the ANC’s top six officials may call on the integrity commission’s assistance during its month-long preparation of an “audited list of cases” and recommendations.
It is understood that the matter of the controversial reinstatement of the two Limpopo leaders was also brought up at the NEC meeting as it discussed corruption.
The Mail & Guardian has learned that NEC member Mondli Gungubele had brought up the matter of the “criminal action” of the reinstatement of Limpopo deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani and provincial treasurer Danny Msiza. The two were suspended from their positions at the recommendations of the ANC’s integrity committee after they were implicated in the Motau report into the siphoning of R2-billion from VBS.
But Gungubele was shot down by members who argued that the matter had already been decided by the last NEC meeting and should not be reopened.
However it is expected that ANC officials will first report back to the NEC — after their consultation with the communities of Limpopo — before the two are reinstated.
Despite the marked differences of Ramaphosa’s supporters and those backing the party’s secretary general, Ace Magashule, it is understood that there was general acceptance at the meeting that corruption is hurting the ANC’s image and could cost it at the polls.
This comes as the ANC faced massive criticism on social media platforms, with the hashtag #voetsekANC trending at number one nationally for days.
ANC Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC) member and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi expressed his hurt at the party being on the receiving end of criticism.
The party has commended its structures in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape for investigating allegations of corruption within their ranks.
But, so far, it is only Gauteng that has taken considerable action against its leaders. Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his fellow ANC Gauteng PEC member Khusela Diko have had to step aside while the party investigates allegations of possible corruption of a R125-million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender to a company owned by Diko’s husband, Thandisizwe Diko, who is the disputed amaBhaca king. Diko, who is also Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, has taken leave of absence from her job in the presidency.
Another NEC member said the action by the party in Gauteng was crucial, especially considering the local government elections next year. “We are in trouble in Gauteng: that’s why the movement had to take tough action. Remember that we did not win the three metros outright in 2016. So we cannot gamble, especially with the 2021 local government elections around the corner. That’s why the comrades were tough in the case of Bandile [Masuku] and Khusela [Diko],” said the NEC member, who lives in Gauteng.
Another ANC member, who also sits on the NEC, confirmed to the M&G that a compromise was reached in dealing with the crisis of allegations being made against its leaders. “The reality is that comrades must also not prejudge people and there needs to be a thorough process that doesn’t compromise leaders because there are allegations. The sentiments in the public about corruption must be looked at, but people should not be found guilty by a court of public opinion.”
In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC provincial leadership is facing its own crisis over the scandal-ridden department of social development, with Premier Sihle Zikalala coming under increasing pressure to act against social development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza over corruption totalling R28-million in the purchase of 48 000 blankets and PPE at the beginning of the lockdown.
Criminal charges have been laid against the top leadership of the department, including its acting director general and chief financial officer, but pressure to fire Khoza is mounting, despite the announcement by Zikalala that the investigation into the scandal had not implicated her. A reshuffle planned for April involving Khoza had been put on hold because of the Covid-19 lockdown, but the revelations over the blanket procurement has ramped up pressure on Zikalala to act.
A member of the PEC, who asked not to be named, said the fallout over the blanket procurement made it difficult for Zikalala and the ANC leadership not to act.
“The ANC and the premier are going to have to act. Covid-19 has exposed the department badly and this makes it impossible not to take action,” the PEC member said.
In Mpumalanga, ANC acting provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali wrote to its regional secretaries this week requesting that they provide her with a breakdown of all municipal spending on Covid-19 procurement since the lockdown began on March 26.
In the letter, Ntshalintshali requested a breakdown containing the names of all the companies awarded Covid-19 contacts; details of the products or services procured and the amounts paid by municipalities. She also asked them for a breakdown, by Wednesday, of all donations received by municipalities and a detailed programme of how they were distributed to communities and who received them.