/ 13 December 2022

Tony Yengeni appeals ban on standing for election at the ANC conference

ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tony Yengeni. Photo: Supplied

ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tony Yengeni has lodged an appeal with the party’s electoral commission over its decision to ban him from standing for its 80-member top structure because of his criminal record.

Yengeni, one of president Cyril Ramaphosa’s fiercest critics in the party’s leadership and in the public domain, wrote to electoral commission chairperson Kgalema Motlanthe on Monday night asking him to “reconsider” the decision to stop him standing when the ANC elective conference starts on Friday.

Yengeni and a number of key figures in the” radical economic transformation” faction — including Bathabile Dlamini and Andile Lungisa — were served with letters of disbarment at the close of the vetting process by the electoral commission after falling foul of the step-aside rule.

The former guerilla and political prisoner was jailed for four years in 2003 after entering into a plea bargain with the state, in terms of which he pleaded guilty to defrauding parliament and was acquitted on corruption charges.

The charges stemmed from Yengeni lying to parliament about a 47% discount he received on a luxury Mercedes Benz 4×4

In a letter to Motlanthe, Yengeni said that although he had served four months of a four-year sentence for fraud after being convicted for lying to parliament, he had successfully applied to the department of justice and constitutional development for the expungement of his criminal record.

“The resolution on which you seek to disqualify me from participation at the upcoming 55th national conference of the ANC was only taken in 2017. However I had been sentenced more than 15 years since then and had also been punished by the ANC for the said offence,” Yengeni said.

“To now seek to apply the 2017 conference resolution in retrospect to offences committed prior thereto is both unlawful and unconstitutional to say in the very least.” 

Yengeni said that “in the eyes of the law I have no previous conviction and/or sentence” and that “your ruling and or decision, which seeks to continue to perpetuate that I have a criminal record is therefore unlawful as it is against the constitution and the law.”

The decision also “seeks to infringe upon my rights as enshrined in section 19 of the Constitution”, he said.

Yengeni appealed to Motlanthe and the committee to “reverse your unlawful and unconstitutional decision”.

He said that after he had served his time, he had also appeared before the ANC’s disciplinary committee, then chaired by Kader Asmal, and had been served with a five-year suspension, suspended for five years.

Since then, he had been elected to the NEC at the Polokwane, Mangaung and Nasrec ANC conferences.

Yengeni said that stopping him from standing “is tantamount to double jeopardy” and a retrospective application of the law, which was not permissible.

He added that he would “weigh his further legal options” with regard to having the decision overturned by the courts.

Yengeni is not the only aggrieved would-be NEC member who is planning to approach the courts.

Eight Gauteng ANC members who did not make the cut for the 200 names put up by branches to contest the NEC have gone to the high court in Gauteng to try to force the electoral commission to provide details of branches nominations and who they voted for.

Issac Mashaba and seven others want the court to either order the electoral commission to provide them with detailed spreadsheets of nomination outcomes and their ranking, or to have the matter tabled at conference before the NEC election takes place.

They have asked the court to hear the application on Thursday; to do so after the conference will allow a flawed process to take place.

The ANC has indicated that it will contest this action.

Motlanthe did not respond to calls from the Mail & Guardian.