The African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) met over the weekend to discuss pertinent issues plaguing the party and the outcomes do not look so good for several party members, including secretary-general Ace Magashule.
In a statement on Sunday, 14 February 2021, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa said the NEC has adopted new guidelines related to members and leaders facing criminal charges. These guidelines call for such members to immediately step aside.
“The NEC meeting adopted guidelines on implementing resolutions of the 54th conference on members and leaders in conflict with the law or accused of serious misdemeanours. This is fundamental to the renewal of our movement and to strengthen the integrity and credibility of the ANC,” Ramaphosa said.
Considering that Magashule is one such member, he may soon be forced to step down. He faces charges of corruption and fraud in connection to an R255 million asbestos contract awarded in the Free State when he was still premier. In 2014, the Free State department of human settlements awarded a tender to two companies namely; Diamond Hill and Blackhead Consulting, to audit and assess houses for asbestos roofs in the province. It is alleged that hardly any work was done despite the money being paid.
The ANC secretary-general was subsequently released on R200 000 bail in November 2020, following his arrest and the case will continue on Friday, 19 February 2021.
— African National Congress (@MYANC) February 14, 2021
The ANC president said the National Working Committee (NWC) will be finalising the party’s guidelines within the next month, which will be after consultations with provinces.
Ramaphosa added that the implementation of these guidelines forms a critical part of the ANC’s programme of renewal and unity of purpose. In what can be described as a veiled message to Magashule and other members who may be in trouble with the law, Ramaphosa said:
“It should be emphasised that the starting point in realising the conference’s resolutions on this matter is reliance on the revolutionary conscience of members and leaders – for affected individuals themselves to act voluntarily without compulsion from the movement structures. We, therefore, call on affected members to act in the interest of protecting the reputation of the movement by acting accordingly,” Ramaphosa said.
According to weekend reports, several members used the ANC NEC meeting to officially call for Magashule to step down. Magashule has come under from a faction that is anti-Jacob Zuma, particularly after he came to his defence.
Magashule has long said he would not step down from his position, in light of the charges he faces.