ANC NWC meets over step-aside deadline
Johannesburg - As the ANC national working committee (NWC) meets on Monday, the contentious step-aside resolution is set to be at the top of its agenda, with analysts warning that tensions will mount in the coming weeks.
The deadline for ANC members who have been criminally charged with corruption lapsed on Friday, with no member having excused themselves in order to be cleared.
The decision to have those who are found wanting leaving their positions was taken by the ANC national executive meeting (NEC) in March after it gave a 30-day window period to those who face charges. Since then, lists have been compiled and submitted from provinces.
The NWC meeting comes ahead of the ANC NEC meeting which is expected to take place this weekend.
Among the ANC members who face having to step aside include the party's secretary-general Ace Magashule - who has been charged over an R255 million Free State asbestos tender - former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, former Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, ANC KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza.
With the Friday deadline long over, political analysts are sceptical as to whether the ANC will follow through with the resolution or not.
The biggest concern is the misinterpretation of who should step aside.
Xolani Dube, from the Xubera Institute of Research, said the interpretation of the step-aside rule had been deliberately distorted.
“The step-aside is getting lost in the interpretation. I think it’s a deliberate move from both factions. They understand that they are no different from each other. None of these factions will allow any of their members to step aside,” Dube said.
He said another issue for the ANC was that its NEC never stipulated consequences for members who did not step aside by the deadline. This was a breeding ground for disbelief that the resolution would ever be implemented by the party.
Dube said the NWC would likely attempt to “crisis manage” the issue when it met.
“The meeting will likely be a crisis management meeting, it has nothing to do with step-aside. What are the consequences of not meeting the deadline? Ace is still there. They never said if you do not step aside these are the penalties,” he explained.
Factions linked to Magashule have threatened to go to court if the step-aside resolution is implemented.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga, on the other hand, said talk of possible court action was worrying, especially as courts would be dragged into a matter that could be resolved by the party.
“It will end up in court. The Magashule people have already said they are going to challenge it in court. Unless a political decision is being made on finding a point of compromise.
“It is dragging the court into an unnecessary debate, where the court will be an arbitrator on something that does not require arbitration. If the court comes back and says Ace has to go, it goes straight into the narrative of the factions,” Mathekga warned.