ANC move to ‘stand aside’ is falling flat

The ANC’s proposed clean-out of its structures appears to have foundered. This is partly because of a lack of direction from party headquarters at Luthuli House about how to implement the ruling by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to force members facing criminal charges or allegations of corruption to stand aside from their state and party posts.

The lack of clarity on how to proceed with implementing the NEC ruling has allowed the leadership troikas of five municipalities in North West to defy their recall for several months. It has also seen corruption-accused MP Bongani Bongo, charged for a second time last week, remain in his parliamentary seat.

Last week the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership reinstated its corruption-accused deputy chairperson, Mike Mabuyakhulu, on the recommendation of its integrity committee, despite the fact that he is still facing criminal charges over R28-million paid by the provincial economic development ministry, which he headed, for a jazz concert that never took place.

The ruling to reinstate Mabuyakhulu, who co-ordinated the KwaZulu-Natal leg of the campaign to elect Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president in 2017, contradicts the July decision by the party’s NEC that those facing charges should stand aside till their cases are resolved.

As a result, the ANC leadership in the province has asked Luthuli House for clarity as to how to implement integrity commission rulings that contradict the NEC resolution.


The ruling is likely to set a precedent for a return to the provincial legislature for former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede, who is out on R50 000 bail over a R430-million waste disposal tender. 

Gumede, who was redeployed to the legislature by the ANC, which had recalled her as mayor, has made two appearances before the commission and is awaiting its final report being tabled at the provincial executive committee (PEC).

Ten more ANC regional leaders, several of whom are councillors, are also facing hearings at the integrity commission.

In the case of Mabuyakhulu, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli told a media briefing last week that the PEC had agreed to accept the recommendation of the integrity commission that he be allowed to resume his duties as provincial deputy chairperson.

Gumede, who was redeployed to the legislature by the ANC, which had recalled her as mayor, has made two appearances before the commission and is awaiting its final report being tabled at the provincial executive committee (PEC).

Ten more ANC regional leaders, several of whom are councillors, are also facing hearings at the integrity commission.

In the case of Mabuyakhulu, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli told a media briefing last week that the PEC had agreed to accept the recommendation of the integrity commission that he be allowed to resume his duties as provincial deputy chairperson.

Ntuli said the integrity commission had noted that Mabuyakhulu had been “very co-operative, candid and frank” in his dealings with it.

The commission also noted that he had voluntarily stood aside after his arrest in February 2018 — which took place five years after the case was opened — and had asked the ANC leadership if he could recuse himself from deployment to government after the 2019 national and provincial elections.

Mabuyakhulu had, Ntuli said, voluntarily stood aside as deputy chairperson ahead of his appearance before the integrity commission, an act which the party saw as being a “commitment to place the interests of our people and movement ahead of his personal desires”.

Ntuli said the PEC had accepted the recommendation and was now engaging the NEC to provide guidelines for dealing with cases before the commission. “The PEC will continue and engage the NEC on the need to urgently provide guidelines and [a] framework that articulate a common approach on how to deal with the findings of the integrity commission, without being seen as violating conference resolutions,” Ntuli said.

Meanwhile, in parliament, the lack of action from the ANC leadership has meant that Bongo has not been instructed to stand aside and continues to chair parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee, despite last week’s court appearance in Nelspruit after his second arrest. 

He will appear in court again on 4 March next year.

The ANC caucus in parliament is still to receive instructions from Luthuli House as to what action to take regarding Bongo, who was arrested last week on corruption charges relating to a R124-million land deal in 2012 when he was an official of the Mpumalanga human settlements department.

Bongo and 10 others have been charged and released on bail of R10 000 over the deal, in which R1.5-million was allegedly paid into the bank account of a company owned by Bongo’s wife, Zandile Nkosi. Two payments of R300 000 each were also allegedly made to pay for vehicles registered in the name of Bongo’s brother, Joel.

Bongo had previously been arrested in November 2019 for allegedly trying to bribe an advocate involved in parliament’s Eskom inquiry while he was state security minister. He was released on bail of R5 000 in that case. 

Bongo continued to occupy his parliamentary seat, despite the subsequent NEC ruling earlier this year that members facing criminal charges should stand aside from their party and state jobs.

ANC parliamentary caucus spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said the Bongo issue was being dealt with by Luthuli House, because it was the party headquarters, and not the parliamentary caucus, which had deployed him to parliament. 

“He informed the chief whip of his imminent arrest last week. Beyond that, the entire matter is being dealt with by Luthuli House. He has been communicating with the office of the secretary general,” Kota said.

In the North West, the mayor, chief whip and speaker of the Dr Ruth Mompati district municipality and the Maquassi Hills, Ditsobotla, Mahikeng and Matlosana local municipalities have all defied a recall decision by the provincial interim committee over the collapse of the municipalities. 

The committee has been forced to put on hold action against another six municipalities — and a proposed cabinet reshuffle — after supporters of former premier and chairperson Supra Mahumapelo dug in over the issue.

A member of the committee, who asked not to be named, said they were “powerless” in the face of the defiance by the municipal leaders and the supporters.

“There is a deadlock we can do nothing about. Until we have intervention by the NEC, we are powerless to do anything to implement the decision,” he said.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party’s officials were busy drafting guidelines for the implementation of the NEC decision.

“In that NEC, we decided that the officials must initiate the process of developing guidelines for implementation. There is a legal team that is engaged with that,” Mabe said. 

“We will provide a framework of sorts for structures, giving them direction on how these undertakings ought to be implemented.”

Mabe said the party’s national working committee meeting on Monday would receive progress reports on the drafting of the guidelines.

Mabe declined to comment on the reinstatement of Mabuyakhulu, despite the outstanding corruption charges against him.

“There is a provision for an individual to make representations to the integrity commission so it could make its own determination. It appears that in this instance the structure would have pronounced itself. It is not a space I would really want to enter. They can speak for themselves,” he said.

Mabe defended the slow pace of implementing the NEC resolution.

“These are internal decisions of the ANC. They have nothing to do with the working of the government. The party has every right to implement its resolutions at its own pace and satisfy itself that the implementation of the decisions is done in a fashion that still upholds the rights of individual members,” Mabe said.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
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