Ramaphosa reaffirms ‘line in the sand’ as ANC talks tough on corruption

The ANC special national executive committee (NEC) meeting has agreed to instruct leaders charged with corruption to stand aside from their positions in the party and government.

It also wants leaders accused of corruption and other serious crimes to appear before its integrity commission to explain their actions and will suspend those who fail to do so.

The confirmation of the decision by its last meeting is a victory for President Cyril Rampahosa, after his opponents attempted to shift the focus to his 2017 presidential campaign.

The NEC meeting also endorsed Ramaphosa’s letter to ANC members, written ahead of the meeting, which had drawn an angry response — and an open letter — from former president Jacob Zuma and supporters of secretary-general Ace Magashule.

The secretary-general received a summons from the ANC integrity commission ahead of the NEC meeting and is scheduled to appear this week. 

His supporters had pushed back ahead of the meeting, calling for an investigation into donations to Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign for the party presidency.

Significantly, Ramaphosa took the unusual step of addressing the media in his capacity as ANC president on Monday; this is usually the role of Magashule after NEC meetings.

Ramaphosa said the NEC had reaffirmed the decision of the earlier NEC meeting to draw a line in the sand” between the party and those of its members and leaders accused of corruption and other crimes.

Ramaphosa said that the NEC meeting had recognised the need for “decisive action within our own ranks” and to restore the “ethos” of the party.

The president described the meeting as a “turning point” in the party confronting corruption within its ranks, saying it had endorsed his letter to ANC members as a “clear articulation” of where it stood on the matter.

Ramaphosa said the NEC had emphasised that “what appears to be a choreographed campaign” against him would not deter the party from acting against state capture and corruption.

It had endorsed the proposal that members charged with corruption stand aside in their party and government positions for the duration of their trial and should resign if found guilty.

A list of those who faced charges was being drafted by the party’s national working Committee (NWC), which would be consolidated and acted on by the party leadership.

Those who faced allegations of corruption would have to go before a strengthened integrity commission to give an account of their actions. Should they fail to do so, they would be suspended, he said.

In addition, the party would develop guidelines preventing ANC leaders and their families from doing business with the state and would also introduce guidelines for lobbying and campaigning for party leadership elections. Further mechanisms for financial disclosure by party leaders would also be put in place, Ramaphosa said.

In response to questions, Ramaphosa confirmed that he would appear before the integrity commission and that he would suggest that clear guidelines be set for campaigning to undo the culture that had developed around this in recent years in the party.

He said members who refused to step aside or resign after being convicted would be charged in terms of the party disciplinary procedures and would have their membership revoked.

Ramaphosa refused to engage on the contents of Zuma’s letter publicly, but Magashule, who also took questions at the virtual media briefing, said the officials would be dealing with the matter.

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