The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has accepted a proposal for a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture.
Following a three-day meeting at the St Georges Hotel this past weekend, the NEC also warned party members against falling into the hands of opposition parties and their calls for president Jacob Zuma to resign.
At a briefing on the outcomes of the meeting on Monday, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party supported the call for an inquiry that would uncover the influence of business on the state.
Last year, the public protector’s office released its State of Capture report which implicated Zuma, the Gupta brothers, Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe and others in alleged acts of state capture.
The NEC called on all implicated individuals, including the president, who were reviewing the report to speed up their processes and not use their reviews as a means to slow down the establishment of the commission.
Mantashe said the inquiry would date back to 1994 to look into other possible cases that had not been investigated by the public protector’s office since the ANC came into power.
“If I’m captured by somebody other than the Guptas, I’m not better off than people who are captured by the Guptas.
That’s why we open in 1994 to say ‘let’s drill deep and understand the extent of the influence of business on the ANC’. And if we can have a commission that does that for us, the ANC will be a better organisation,” Mantashe said.
This weekend, fresh allegations of state capture surfaced after the Sunday Times and the City Press reported on an alleged plan by the Gupta family to help Zuma flee to Dubai.
In the reports, leaked emails alleged to have been sent between the Guptas and their employees uncovered links to incidents of state capture including the appointment of Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
While it was expected that the reports would from part of discussions at the NEC gathering, Mantashe said this was not the case.
“No we don’t do that in the NEC. That is not what we discuss in the ANC. But I would imagine that in debating, what comes up in the newspapers becomes part of the content of what members of the NEC use in their argument. But we don’t have a specific session that says ‘now it’s time for current news’,” he said
Calls for Zuma to resign
According to sources within the NEC, 18 members supported a call for Zuma to step down while 54 were against it. But Mantashe said the overwhelming sentiment among NEC members was that the need for unity came first.
He warned that external calls for Zuma to step down were fuelled by a separate agenda that ANC members should be wary of.
“Some calls, especially those made by the opposition, are not so much about removing the president but rather dislodging the ANC itself from power,” Mantashe said.
“Members of the ANC should never be fooled to think that it’s only about one person. It’s about the African National Congress”.
This weekend’s call for Zuma to resign followed a previous attempt at an NEC meeting in November last year, which was also unsuccessful.
On Thursday, ANC veterans penned an open letter to the NEC, calling on it to take the country “out of this nightmare”. In the letter, the veterans did not call for Zuma’s removal but called on the NEC to reflect on whether decisions taken to absolve the president lived up to the expectations of South Africans.
Mantashe said while he did not believe the stalwarts supported the agenda of opposition parties, individuals needed to be mindful of the outcome their calls could have.
“In the case of the opposition forces, the message is clearer that the intention is to dislodge the ANC from power. They said themselves it’s not only about president Zuma; it’s about the ANC [as a whole]. We are not accusing veterans of collaborating with those forces, but we’re saying the outcome of those efforts can converge on the consequences”.
Brian Molefe reappointment
On the controversial reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom chief executive, the NEC called for the decision to be reversed as soon as possible. It said it had given Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown instructions to resolve the matter before it goes to court.
“All we did was to say that the minister resolve this issue before it goes to court, yourself. How you resolve it? We can’t determine that for a minister. Because this thing of being unable to take decisions on issues that are under our jurisdiction translates to judicial overreach,” Mantashe said.
ANC succession debate
With just seven months until the party’s national elective conference in December, the NEC has tried to put a lid over increasing interest in the succession debate until after its policy conference in July. But following this weekend’s meeting, the party said it was aware that it could no longer contain the excitement ahead of conference and resolved to allow structures to start discussing names of possible candidates. However, nominations and public pronouncements would only be opened in September.