DURBAN - FORMER mayor and newly elected chairperson of the ANC’s eThekwini region Zandile Gumede is expected to remain in office despite the party’s highest decision-making body announcing that members who faced criminal charges would be barred from contesting leadership positions.
Gumede is facing charges of fraud and corruption and will reappear in court later this year.
On Tuesday the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) said “any member who had stepped aside voluntarily following an indictment to appear in a court of law on any charge should not be allowed to stand for a position”.
“The NEC further noted that a number of members who have been indicted in a court of law, some on very serious charges, accepted nomination for such positions after stepping aside voluntarily, only to step aside again immediately after being elected. The NEC noted with concern that this has resulted in confusion and serious reputational damage to the organisation.”
ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said based on the NEC statement, the decision was not taken retrospectively and Gumede and others who face criminal charges and who had been elected into leadership positions would not be affected. “It appears to suggest that this is from now onwards, but we await further instructions.”
Njabulo Mchunu, a spokesperson for Gumede’s supporters, said that was also how Gumede understood it.
“She is chairperson but she stepped aside a while ago and her deputy is acting in the position.”
EThekwini regional executive committee (REC) spokesperson Mondli Mkhize said his understanding of the NEC statement was that it would affect anyone contesting a provincial or national conference.
The REC held a press conference on Tuesday and said Gumede and Zoe Shabalala, who had been elected treasurer and has been charged alongside Gumede, would abide by the resolution.
The region’s deputy chairperson, Thembo Ntuli, will act on behalf of Gumede and the secretariat and finance committee for Shabalala.
The amendment to the step-aside resolution is being seen by some in the party as strengthening the hand of those close to President Cyril Ramaphosa and targeting his political opponents ahead of the party’s elective conference.
The amendment also prevents the party’s suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule from contesting for a leadership position later this year.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said in terms of law, the amendment of the step-aside resolution could not be applied retrospectively, but the NEC could decide to do this.
“In the ANC there is an attempt to make sure those who are not agreeable to one faction are pushed aside.”
“There is no respect for the Constitution, which says people are innocent until proven guilty, but there is a need to purge those they don’t agree with.”
Seepe said some party members who benefited from friendships, had not been asked to step aside.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe did not respond to requests for comment.