President Cyril Ramaphosa has won the latest battle in the fight to cleanse the party of corruption-accused leaders, with its top leadership reaffirming the decision to force them to step aside from their party and state posts.
The party’s national executive committee (NEC), which wrapped up a three-day virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon, has confirmed its August decision to implement the rule, in line with the resolutions of its 54th national conference in December 2017.
It decided that the party’s top six officials would now draft guidelines for implementing the decision, which has threatened to split the party, and present them to the ANC national working committee (NWC) and the NEC when they meet again next year.
In his televised closing address to the NEC meeting, Ramaphosa announced that secretary general Ace Magashule, who is out on bail after being arrested over the R255-million Free State asbestos audit scandal, would appear before the party’s integrity commission on December 12.
The commission would assess the situation of Magashule, who has previously declared that he would not step aside, and make recommendations to the leadership as to what action to take regarding the secretary general.
Ramaphosa said the NEC “welcomed” Magashule’s decision to appear before the commission.
The ANC officials would “process” the determination of the commission and report to the NEC and NWC, as well as delivering its draft guidelines on how the “stand aside” rule would be enforced.
Ramaphosa said the officials would have to meet with the party’s provincial secretaries and the secretaries of its women’s and youth leagues, which were also battling to implement the “stand aside” rule.
He said the lower structures experienced “precisely the same challenges” as the NEC.
“We need to integrate the experience of all the structures of our movement in arriving at a cogent … position. We are confident that we will be able to traverse our way around this issue and still be able to implement the resolutions of our conference,” Ramaphosa said.
Supporters of Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma have opposed the implementation of the rule against Magashule, arguing that he, like Zuma, is being targeted.
Ramaphosa said the NEC had condemned the burning of ANC regalia and the verbal attacks on the party’s leadership outside Magashule’s court appearance in Mangaung last month.
He called on all ANC members to refrain from such behaviour, calling it “unbecoming”.
“It is not acceptable, and it must stop,” he said.
Ramaphosa said predictions that the NEC meeting would disintegrate into chaos because of the admittedly severe divisions over the issue had not materialised.
He said the officials would finalise the guidelines for dealing with those who were charged with, convicted for or accused of criminal offences and present them to the NEC and NWC.
He said the ANC was a voluntary organisation, and that, although it had secured legal opinions on the “stand aside” rule, it had a moral obligation to implement the resolution.