Gauteng regions to call for a review of ANC step-aside rule at this weekend’s conference

The ANC’s three biggest regions in Gauteng — Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg — intend to include a review of the step-aside rule at policy discussions during a provincial conference that kicked off on Thursday. 

The Mail & Guardian spoke to ANC provincial secretaries in Tshwane and Johannesburg who agreed that Gauteng must come out with a declaration reviewing the implementation of the rule. 

Ekurhuleni secretary TK Nciza was not available for comment but a regional executive committee member who spoke on condition of anonymity said the region would support a call to review the resolution. 

The Gauteng regions are following on the heels of KwaZulu-Natal’s Musa Dladla region, which was the first to officially pronounce that the rule must be reviewed.

The M&G has previously reported that Musa Dladla regional secretary Nathi Xulu has successfully lobbied other regions, with a forum of secretaries and chairs of all 11 regions expected to discuss who would be best placed to advance this agenda as the provincial chair. 

Johannesburg regional secretary Sasabona Manganye said the regional conference resolved that the rule should be strengthened so it was not abused to settle factional scores, but rather served to help renew the ANC and ensure the party has ethical leadership. 

Manganye said branches had also expressed dissatisfaction with the “selective” application of the rule, adding there was a perception that the rule was not implemented consistently. 

The ANC’s Johannesburg region is also of the view that there needs to be clearer understanding of the guidelines on the rule, which currently stipulates that those charged with serious crimes must step aside from their positions and those facing minor charges must be hauled before the integrity committee.

“There is that general lack of appreciation of the fact that step-aside guidelines don’t necessarily imply everyone accused or suspected of anything must automatically step aside; there are due processes that must be followed. That is the contributing factor,” Maganye said. 

ANC women’s league leader Bathabile Dlamini narrowly escaped the step-aside rule when she was convicted and sentenced with an option of a fine for having perjured herself in the South African Social Security Agency scandal. 

Secretary general Ace Magashule was suspended when he refused to step aside after he was charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering in the asbestos roof scandal in the Free State. 

Tshwane regional secretary George Matjila has also called for a review, saying that although branches support the rule, they believed it should be looked at “so that it becomes valid”. 

“It assists in terms of restraining the conduct of an individual leader but it then becomes a problem once it is manipulated to favour a certain clique within the organisation. We just need to engage it further so that it becomes a position that clearly defines the conduct of all of us, not any individuals,” he said. 

Matjila said there would be discussions with other regions in Gauteng and in other provinces that have the same perspective, before the ANC holds its national conference in December. 

“It (rule) should serve us all equally, it should not be used for political agenda, it should be used for corrective measures. I think for us the intention and purpose was good but the problem is how its applied is now becoming problematic,” he said. 

Sedibeng secretary Jason Mkhwane said the region would focus on the step-aside rule in its preparations for December, with branches given a chance to express their opinions and proposals towards a consolidated position. 

Johannesburg’s Manganye said there had also been suggestions that the integrity committee was toothless and must be empowered. He argued that the ANC was selective in its implementation of the integrity committee’s rulings. 

He said some branches had suggested that the step-aside rule should also be open to an appeal, and that those are some of the elements that should be integrated into the ANC’s constitution.

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