The ANC appears to have lost an opening round in its fight to clean up its image.
Hundreds of its members defied the party’s ban on associating with corruption-accused leaders and turned out at KwaZulu-Natal MPL Zandile Gumede’s court appearance on Thursday.
Gumede’s supporters from branches in the eThekwini region gathered at the Durban magistrate’s court for her short appearance on corruption charges, totalling almost R400-million, which stemmed from her term as mayor.
The move by Gumede’s backers is a direct contravention of the recent decision of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) that corruption-accused members should step aside and that party members should stop associating themselves and the party with such members.
Gumede’s supporters held an impromptu rally outside the court complex, at which she addressed them, proclaiming her innocence and bemoaning the failure of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to proceed with the case against her and a group of ANC councillors, city officials and contractors. The case was adjourned until December 10.
The NEC instructed party structures to compile a list of all members convicted of or facing corruption charges for further action; those facing allegations of corruption are expected to appear before its integrity commission.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) would meet at the weekend to take reports from regions on the process of compiling the list.
It would also discuss the violations of the NEC ruling, he said. “We are having a PEC meeting at the weekend. We have a decision of the NEC on record, which we have to implement. NEC decisions are expected to be implemented. Our discussions at the weekend will have to reflect on this,”’ he said.
Ntombela said the refusal of Gumede’s supporters to abide by party rulings had been a historical problem.
“We will have to follow up this matter. There is a NEC decision and that decision still stands,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal is not the only provincial ANC structure facing pockets of rebellion over the NEC decision.
In the Eastern Cape, party heavyweight Andile Lungisa had, at the time of writing, failed to resign as a party councillor as instructed by the ANC provincial leadership. This after he was convicted of assault for hitting a fellow councillor with a glass jug during a chaotic council meeting.
Lungisa was still sticking to his guns, despite the failure of his application to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which this week rejected his appeal against his two-year jail sentence. He had been given until the end of Thursday to resign, failing which the party intended to expel him as a councillor.
In the North West, the process has also hit several snags. The convener of the ANC interim provincial task team in North West, Hlomane Chauke, has been accused of manipulating the process of drawing up the list of those who will be asked to stand aside until their cases are concluded.
In a letter to the NEC, Mmoloki Cwaile, an ANC MPL, claimed that the list submitted to it by Chauke had not been compiled following a proper process involving the ANC regional structures, which had been meant to submit names to the province through their co-ordinators.
Cwaile said he had been included on the lists as having an outstanding rape case against him, despite the case, which was laid against him in 2013, being withdrawn. The person who had laid the charge, who was not the alleged victim, had later confessed that she was paid “as it was time for the regional conference where I contested as regional chair”, he said.
Cwaile said he had applied for clearance from the South African Police Service two years ago when he joined the provincial legislature. This was granted, proving that he had no criminal record or outstanding charges.
Cwalie said in the letter that the names of some ANC members who did have criminal records or outstanding cases in the province had been left off the list for “factional reasons”.
Chauke himself, Cwaile said, had been the subject of several criminal investigations that had not yet been included.
Cwalie asked the NEC to withdraw the North West list submitted to it and start the process afresh, saying that failure to do so would leave him with no option but to go to court.
Chauke and ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe did not answer calls from the Mail & Guardian by the time of publishing.
On Monday, a special NEC meeting continued on its path of trying to clean up the party, laying down guidelines for candidate selection for the 2021 local government elections, which will prevent any accused person from being nominated to serve as a public representative.
According to the NEC report, all candidates “will be thoroughly screened regarding criminal and disciplinary matters” before being allowed to accept nomination from ANC branches.
Candidates would also be forced to campaign internally under new guidelines governing funding and rules for conduct set down and supervised by a party electoral commission, which would now oversee the process.