ANC’s step-aside rule could backfire, warn analysts

Date: 30 Jul 2021

The list of those who have become casualties of the ANC step-aside rule have held senior party and government positions.

If applied unequally and unfairly, the ANC constitutional step-aside rule affecting party members facing criminal charges could backfire, political analysts warned yesterday.

The ANC resolution, which has affected several ANC leaders – from suspended party secretary-general Ace Magashule to disgraced for eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede – was first adopted by the ANC’s national conference in Nasrec in 2107.

It was later fine-tuned by the party’s national executive committee for full implementation – dictating that ANC members facing charges should voluntarily step aside from their positions.

Commenting on the clearing by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee of former presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko and former Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, who were initially charged for alleged involvement in the multimillion-rand personal protective equipment scandal, independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga said party members wanted to see the step-aside rule applied equally and fairly.

“Exonerating Diko without a proper process followed, may lead to allegations of unfairness,” said Mathekga.

Institute for Global Dialogue political analyst Sanusha Naidu said: “They have come to this decision, perhaps because she is not an implicated person.

“Everything seems to be up in the air at this point within the party – whether she returns or position herself outside the ANC, is something to be seen.”

“Of key importance is about where the issue lies,” said University of Pretoria politics lecturer Roland Henwood.

“Is it a criminal case in front of the judiciary, or is it an internal party issue? Can the party afford to be seen to circumvent or act as if elevated above formal procedures?

“The challenge in the case of Diko is legitimacy and trust – especially within the ANC. Is she innocent or favoured as part of the president’s support base.”

University of South Africa political science professor Dirk Kotze said the Special Investigating Unit found that there was no evidence Diko could be prosecuted for a crime.

“She was suspended by the ANC in Gauteng for bringing the party into disrepute. But she was never charged in court and therefore did not have to step aside. Her suspension has now lifted.

“Meanwhile, Zandile Gumede was already charged in court and therefore had to step aside.”

The state has alleged that Gumede benefitted to the tune of R2.9 million from an eThekwini waste collection tender. She and 21 others face fraud, corruption and racketeering charges relating to the questionable tender amounting to a revised figure of R320 million, excluding value-added tax.

The list of those who have become casualties of the ANC step-aside rule have held senior party and government positions.

Magashule appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, along with 15 others, in connection with corruption charges related to the R255 million asbestos contract during his tenure as Free State premier.

He was released on R200 000 bail after appearing on 21 charges of corruption, fraud, alternatively theft and money laundering.

ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza who, along with 17 others, face theft, fraud and corruption charges for their suspected involvement in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal – are due in court
on Monday.

One of his co-accused is Collins Chabane municipal manager Tsakani Ngobeni.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape has suspended former health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, after being implicated in the Covid scooters scandal.

By Brian Sokutu - Senior Print Journalist -–

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