PRETORIA, South Africa – President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned that the ANC will take action against all leaders who refused to voluntarily step aside from their positions while facing corruption charges.
The ANC top six on Monday held a briefing on the outcomes of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend, which discussed the corruption allegations linked to its leaders and members and which were tarnishing the image of the party.
This comes as the ANC is besieged by a widening factional rift which has been intensified by the looting of Covid-19 relief funds during the pandemic.
Before the special NEC meeting, the looting scandal had seen Ramaphosa pen a seven-page letter to ANC members in which he said the ANC was in the dock as “Accused No 1” in relation to corruption allegations and called for all those charged to step aside.
Ramaphosa said the letter, which has been publicly condemned by former president Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders, had been endorsed by the NEC “as a clear articulation of the policies and positions of the organisation” and that its points of action had been approved.
Ramaphosa said the party’s top brass had resolved to “draw a line in the sand” against corruption by requesting that all those criminally charged step aside from their government and party positions pending the finalisation of their prosecutions.
“The ANC emphasised that what seems to be a choreographed campaign against the president will not distract the movement from undertaking an intensified programme against corruption and state capture, as mandated by the 54th national conference,” Ramaphosa said.
Those who face allegations will have to explain themselves before the ANC Integrity Commission. Those convicted would have to relinquish their posts.
Ramaphosa said the party would take disciplinary action against any member of the party who refused to heed the instruction to step aside. “If a member does not want to comply, the ANC constitution kicks in through a well-established disciplinary process that is set out in rule 25 of our constitution,” he said.
ANC MP and NEC member Bongani Bongo is among those who are set to step aside from all their positions as he faces corruption charges related to the alleged bribery of an evidence leader in Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom.
Eastern Cape ANC firebrand Andile Lungisa, who is appealing against his two-year sentence in the Supreme Court of Appeal for assaulting a DA councillor during a council sitting in Nelson Mandela Bay, has already been instructed to step aside as councillor by the regional ANC after the NEC decision.
“There are some people who of their own volition have already decided that they are going to step aside because they have realised and have got to hear what the decision of the NEC is and we must pay tribute to those,” Ramaphosa said.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule called for those facing allegations to be treated with fairness and due process, as sometimes people’s images were damaged by being branded as corrupt. “People’s images are sometimes tarnished when there are no facts. We always say if you have facts as South Africans go and report any criminality to any law enforcement agencies.”
He called for the law enforcement agencies to be allowed to do their work without undue pressure. “Don’t rush them because they want to ensure that when they charge a person, they may actually be successful,” he said.