Ace Magashule widens ‘step-aside’ scope to include those not facing criminal charges

PRETORIA-ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule seems to have single-handedly widened the scope of those who will be affected by the party’s step-aside resolution.

This is contained in a letter dated April 9 in which Magashule gives provincial secretaries Thursday as the deadline to send the names of those who will have to vacate their positions.

In the letter, which TimesLIVE has seen, Magashule widens the scope by telling provincial secretaries they need to send the names of ANC members who are facing corruption or serious criminal charges and also those who are facing allegations of or are implicated in corruption.

“Provinces are requested to submit, by April 15, the names of those members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes and those who are alleged, reported to be or implicated in corrupt activities. Provinces must provide details of whether affected comrades have been personally informed in writing,” he said in the letter.

However, this is in clear contrast with the decision taken last month by the party’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC), which limited affected parties to those who have been formally charged.

In a statement delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the NEC gave those who are facing criminal charges 30 days to step aside, failing which they would be suspended.

“All members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which they should be suspended in terms of rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution,” Ramaphosa said at the time.

The decision by the NEC to limit the step-aside rule to those who have been formally charged was based on the guidelines formulated by a team led by treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, former president Kgalema Motlanthe and former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa. They relied on legal advice that it would be difficult to implement the decision on those who are facing accusations.

This came as party leaders, including deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, had raised concerns about how political opponents could use the rule for nefarious reasons.

Duarte said adding allegations or reports as part of reasons to have someone step aside was dangerous as politicians could use allegations to deal with their opponents.

It appears Magashule is focusing solely on the resolutions taken at the 54th national conference and not decisions made by the NEC. At the conference the ANC decided that the step-aside rule should affect even those who are facing allegations of corruption.

This is likely to cause confusion for the provincial secretaries as they had an understanding that it is only the names of those who have been formally charged that would have to be forwarded to Magashule’s office.

Provincial secretaries to whom TimesLIVE reached out were not able to immediately comment as they were liaising with Magashule’s office.

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