File photo: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane. Picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Johannesburg - ANC members found guilty of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and other financial transgressions in court face automatic expulsion from the party.

This applies to party members and those deployed to the government at all levels. They will be charged in their capacity as individual members and - should this apply - as government officials as well.

This is part of the new sweeping reforms adopted by the ANC conference at Mangaung.

These measures are meant to deal with ill-discipline, which has threatened to tear the ANC apart, and also to restore the party’s flagging image.

The constitutional changes come as former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s money-laundering and racketeering case continues at the Polokwane Regional Court.

But the ruling party said the amendments won’t apply retrospectively.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, chairman of the ANC’s committee on constitutional amendments, outlined the sweeping changes at a media briefing on Thursday.

In what appears to be an attempt to close the loopholes used by Malema to frustrate the ANC’s national disciplinary committee during his hearing for misconduct and bringing the party into disrepute, the ruling party has made provisions for the suspension of members who appeal their convictions until the entire process was finalised.

Malema had appealed his conviction and five-year suspension early this year in what was seen as delaying tactics to ensure he remained in the party until the crucial Mangaung conference. His suspension was later converted to expulsion.

The conference has also re-affirmed the right of aggrieved members to take the party to court as and when they wish. Chabane said such members would no longer be deemed to have expelled themselves.

Chabane said this was proof that the ANC was committed to the rule of law and respected the Constitutional Court ruling that found in favour of disgruntled Free State party members.

“At all circumstances, members of the ANC are free to take the ANC to court,” Chabane said.

However, he said the party would have to find mechanisms to deal with political and administrative matters, and address the concerns of aggrieved members to discourage them from seeking relief in courts of law. Chabane said this was necessary because the ANC’s problems were as big as the party itself.

He said that if all the problems were to be referred to court, court rolls would be clogged by ANC members.

However, the amendments were silent on whether non-members have the right to take the party to court if their application for membership is declined.

“There is no reason for us to make provisions for non-ANC members. The ANC is a voluntary organisation. So that would be like trying to force someone to marry you; it just won’t work,” said Chabane.

Malema has intimated that he would apply for new membership, and if that was declined, he would take up the matter with the courts.

The ANC has also decided to set up, within three months, an integrity commission, made up of veterans who would act as custodians of the party’s moral values.

It would have the power to call before it any member, no matter how senior, and any member could report unethical conduct to it.

In a bid to improve accountability, changes to the ANC’s constitution include requiring members deployed to government posts to sign contracts with the party.

The Star