ANC’s alliance partners seek clarity on the party’s step-aside rule

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Alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) and the South African Communist Party say the African National Congress (ANC) must be clear on its step-aside policy, so it does not create more confusion within its party ranks.

They shared these sentiments at Cosatu’s provincial shop stewards’ council held in Rustenburg in the North West.

This is in reference to the recent elections of Mandla Msibi as the treasurer of the ANC in Mpumalanga while facing murder charges, and Zandile Gumede as the regional chairperson of the party at the Ethekwini region in KwaZulu-Natal while facing fraud and corruption charges.

The pair had stepped aside from their positions prior to their nomination and subsequent election to leadership positions.

“The ANC movement must take charge and be principled and be honest in terms of implementing the step aside (rule). In KZN the woman who has been charged with corruption has been in and out of court. She is now elected as the chairperson. In Mpumalanga, a comrade who has been in and out of court with allegations of murder has been elected as the treasure. This can’t be correct,” says Cosatu Deputy General-Secretary Solly Phetoe.

Lack of support for the rule

After her election, Zandile Gumede decried the step-aside rule saying it kills the ANC.

“It’s a very painful exercise. I don’t wish anyone to be on a step-aside, especially because our constitution and our country’s constitution clearly say a person is innocent until is found guilty. You cannot be penalised and be seen guilty before the courts of law find you guilty. But because it affects me directly I don’t want to talk about it. Our branches in December will talk about it and they have already started talking about it because it really is killing our movement.”

Although Msibi and Gumede have agreed to stay away from all ANC activities in line with the rule, their election has, however, been interpreted as a subtle rejection of the resolution.

We need to close the gaps in the step-aside rule: Sibongile Besani

Implementation a challenge 

Political Analyst Dr. Ralph Mathekga says fraught with a lack of clear criteria for implementation and support from party members, the resolution will be difficult.

“I think that the ANC is seriously facing a mountain of challenges in the implementation of the step-aside rule.  This is because there is no buy on this rule and there is no way in which the ANC will come out the same from this step-aside rule. The conflicts are very deep and with leaders that are very compromised. We have seen them ascending to higher positions within the party. Mandla Msibi and the Bathabile Dlamini’s issue and now with Zandile Gumede, all these things are pointing to a lack of clear criteria when it comes to implementation of the step aside rule and lack of political will within the ANC and simply lack support from broader members of the party.”

A discussion on the ANC step aside rule: