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ANC leaders facing corruption or criminal charges or accusations of mismanaging their government posts may have to step aside even before court or other official proceedings unfold.
This was one of the proposals on organisational renewal taken at the party’s policy conference in Midrand on Thursday night.
A proposed integrity commission would come into play when accusations were made to test their seriousness. After this, the commission could not only ask the ANC leader to step aside, but also refer the matter to the party’s disciplinary processes.
ANC national executive committee member and Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura said everyone had agreed on the need to address “the troubled image of the ANC”.
He said there was a “new sense of urgency”, and the organisation could not be held hostage to protracted court processes.
A high-profile example of an ANC leader facing corruption charges is that of Northern Cape party chairman John Block, who was re-elected earlier this month. He faces two court cases involving the acquisition of water tanks, both involving Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi.
However, neither Makhura nor Fikile Mbalula, the sports minister who also heads the ANC’s organisation-building and mobilisation unit, commented on this.
The policy indaba also agreed to proposals banning lobbying, a requirement for a declaration of interests by those wanting to stand for office. The conference also endorsed the regulation of private party-political funding.
However, the 2007 Polokwane national conference had already adopted a resolution to this effect.
Makhura said there was also a focus on instilling values of sacrifice, service and commitment not only in the party, but in broader society. There was unhappiness that not all South Africans celebrated national days, and this needed to change, he said.
“To join the ANC is not an opportunity to become a famous person or, worst of all, to get a tender,” Makhura said.
Other recommendations included reducing the number of national executive committee members from 80 to 60 – the size it was before the 2007 Polokwane national conference – and a minimum 10-year service track-record in the ANC before becoming eligible for election to the national executive committee.
A proposal to amend the ANC constitution to change the status of the top five officials to a fully fledged, constitutionally recognised structure was not endorsed.
Discussions on whether the leaders of the youth, women’s and veterans’ leagues should be allowed to be called presidents, or should be renamed national chairpersons, were not resolved.