Saturday, 13 February 2021 19:53

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Photo Credit: Alon Skuy.

The African National Congress’s (ANC) national executive committee (NEC) heard that guidelines established for the implementation of the step aside resolution have to be discussed at branch level before being adopted.

The ANC's highest decision-making body in between conferences meeting kicked off today, it’s expected to deliberate over a 2017 Nasrec elective conference resolution for those facing criminal charges to step aside.

The guidelines have make it clear that those who face criminal charges in court must immediately step aside from their positions and present themselves to the party’s integrity commission.

Should that member fail to voluntarily step aside, based on the seriousness of the charges, disciplinary processes must then commence and the member be summarily suspended.

The other option is for the member to be referred to the integrity commission, which can recommend that the member be asked to step aside. Should they still fail to step aside after the recommendation and subsequent NEC decision, disciplinary processes may commence and the member be summarily suspended.

The party's secretary-general Ace Magashule was at the centre of the debate after being charged for corruption last year.

However those close to Magashule called for wider consultation.

They argued this would allow branches to discuss the issue, as it is not about individuals but will apply to everyone.

Magashule, who is currently out on R200 000 bail, is expected to appear before the Magistrate’s Court in Bloemfontein on 21 charges of fraud and corruption related to the asbestos removal tender during his time as Free State premier.

Insiders mentioned Magashule heard spirited assist, with some NEC members saying if he had to step aside then "half or even 80% of the NEC" should step apart as a result of they have been all going through allegations. 

Other supporters of Magashule are mentioned to have argued that the NEC should not be in a rush to implement the rules across the ANC’s step-aside resolution. 

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa raised issues concerning the danger to the credibility of the ANC and the necessity for a decision on the matter. 

Sources mentioned Ramaphosa’s supporters argued within the meeting that the rules ought to be adopted and be handled as a "living document". 

Fullview has also had sight of a 15-page document on the "step aside" guidelines, which were put together by a team of veteran ANC leaders including former president Kgalema Motlanthe, former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and current treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.

The party last year finally agreed that only the guidelines could spell out the future of Magashule and others accused of any wrongdoing or facing criminal charges.

The compromise came after the party reached an impasse on Magashule’s fate.

Should they agree to adopt the guidelines, Magashule will have to step aside from his position.

Meanwhile high on the agenda also is former president Jacob Zuma’s intention not to appear before the State Capture Commission and the guidelines on stepping aside of party leaders implicated in corruption.

In a media briefing, before the start of the party’s regular NEC meeting, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said that Zuma’s matter was out in the public and would not miss deliberations of the NEC.

Mabe said that the process of developing the guidelines had been agreed upon by the ANC during the middle of last year and that following the recommendations of legal opinions by lawyers, the top six officials would deal with the framework before reporting to the National Working Committee and then the NEC.

Zuma, who is scheduled to appear before the Commission from Monday February 15 to Friday February 19 , has indicated that he will not be appearing before the commission despite a Constitutional Court ruling ordering him to appear before the commission.