ANC ‘snubs’ talks regarding step-aside rule at conclusion of 55th national elective conference

Delegates at the ANC 55th national elective conference. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Delegates at the ANC 55th national elective conference. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 11, 2023


Pretoria - Some delegates of the ANC’s 55th national elective conference were not impressed by what they called “the snubbing” of talks regarding the controversial step-aside rule during the conclusion of the conference before the party’s 111th anniversary in Mangaung in the Free State, last week.

The party’s conference came to a close at the Imvelo Safari Resort near Bloemfontein in the early hours of Friday, after gruelling discussions regarding its implementation of policies before re-elected president Cyril Ramaphosa closed the conference.

It was the second leg of the conference that resumed after it was adjourned in Nasrec late last year, following the choosing of the new leaders where Ramaphosa emerged victorious, beating his former ally Dr Zweli Mkhize for the position of president.

The second leg of the conference coincided with the celebrations of the governing party’s birthday that was also closed by the January 8 statement addressed by Ramaphosa at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium on Sunday.

Before the conference drew to a close, the renewal commission rapporteur and member, Fasiha Hassan, presented the commission report to the media, confirming that the step-aside rule first presented and adopted at the party’s 54th conference was reaffirmed by the 55th gathering.

However, various delegates of the party felt the leadership of the party used the rule to get rid of their political rivals, which prompted Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal to lead the call for the scrapping of the rule.

But speaking to the media, Hassan said instances of abuse of the step-aside rule, if proven, would result in sanctioning in terms of the law and the ANC code of conduct.

The commission’s report and draft resolutions of the 55th conference stated: “The future of the ANC and the trust of our people depend on its speedy and uniform implementation.

“We cannot as the governing party ask for the trust of the people, while deploying people charged with serious crimes. The conference urged the NEC to ensure that the regulations be implemented uniformly, impartially, consistently and fairly, and not used to fight factional battles, and that the situation of those who stepped aside may be reviewed every six months.

“The NEC, PECs and RECs must ensure that corruption cases and misconduct disciplinary hearings are speeded up. The Integrity Commission and the Disciplinary Committees in the ANC have to be held to deadlines that do not unduly prejudice affected comrades.

“We must publicly dissociate from those that are corrupt, commit serious crimes, abuse women and children, and are involved in sexual harassment. Cadres who are charged should not wait for the ANC to tell them to step aside, but must do so before being asked. Their preparedness to protect the image of the ANC is also a measure of their level of political maturity and whether, in the first place, they deserved senior positions in the movement.”

The rule caused divisions within the party just before the party’s 6th policy conference at the same venue in August last year, where Limpopo and KZN called for the scrapping of the rule after leaders they supported were forced to step aside after being indicted by the National Prosecuting Authority.

Former secretary-general Ace Magashule was the first casualty of the step-aside rule, after he refused to step aside following being charged with corruption, which forced the party’s leadership to suspend him. Other casualties include former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and former ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza.

Speaking to Pretoria News on the sidelines of the celebrations on Sunday, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal delegation said they were not “necessarily impressed” by the time given to discuss the step-aside rule.

Pretoria News