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ANC vets calls for criminally charged members not to stand for positions

Gumede named eThekwini chair, Msibi Mpumalanga treasurer

Nomazima Nkosi Senior reporter
The election of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede as ANC chairperson in the region has been met with criticism.
The election of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede as ANC chairperson in the region has been met with criticism.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

ANC veterans are calling for party members criminally charged not to stand for any position during conferences.

This as former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede was elected regional chairperson on Sunday.

Gumede is currently on trial in the Durban high court alongside 21 others for fraud, corruption and racketeering.  She faces more than 2,000 charges related to a R320m solid waste project.

Two weeks ago, Mandla Msibi, who stands accused of double murder, was elected Mpumalanga provincial treasurer at a conference held in eMalahleni. 

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, ANC veterans Snuki Zikalala and Mavuso Msimang agreed that those who stood for positions, despite facing charges, did so for their own personal gains and not for the benefit of the party.

Zikalala, the ANC Veterans League president, said people who were on step-aside should do the right thing  and decline nomination. "Those individuals should put the party first instead of their own interests," he said.

Zikalala attributed the election by branches to a lack of political education, adding that the Veterans League had failed in that department. "We as veterans will ensure mass political education at branch levels to give the objectives of the ANC.

"Without the branches, there’s no ANC. We don’t blame the masses but ourselves. Those criminality charged should not avail themselves. 

"They should not be allowed to exercise any right of the ANC. They should help the ANC by not contesting and in return, the ANC enforce its own resolution," he said.

Zikalala said having elected members facing criminal charges would hurt the ANC during the 2024 general elections. "It will definitely hurt the ANC because the ANC won the last election in 2019 on an anti-corruption drive. We said we’d deal with corruption but look at the 2021 local government election results.

"In 2019, more than 10-million people voted for the ANC but in 2021 five million voted for the ANC. This shows people's votes aren't endless and if corruption is not dealt with harshly, it will have an  undesirable consequences for the ANC. People want corruption out now and not later," he said.

According to the IEC's election dashboard, during the 2016 local government elections, the ANC received 16.09-million votes, and fast-forward to 2021, this figure dropped substantially and landed at 10.69-million votes. During the 2019 general elections, the ANC generated 10.02-million votes nationally.

Msimang said the situation in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal was indicative of a very serious crisis in ANC. "The ANC step-aside is very clear. If someone has been charged then they must step aside.

"One would hope the leadership of the ANC puts its foot down. This rule is not ambiguous. If facing charges, then you should not make yourself available for any position," he said.

Asked about the calibre of the branches who voted in individuals facing criminal charges, Msimang said that was a reflection of factions taking place within the ANC.

Msimang said members voting for criminally charged individuals expected something in return for their votes. "The person who presents themselves [for position] do not respect the ANC or its image. If they did, they would step-aside and wait to be cleared. It is motivated by self-interest. The ANC is a money-making opportunity for some.

"This is a terrible time for ANC when it’s a time to go to conference. If it is taking up the fight against corruption, it should not be lenient on things breaking the law. This matter should be referred to the NEC but it should've been clear that those criminally charged cannot contest," he said.

Political analyst Pro Mcebisi Ndletyana said members of the ANC we deliberately distorting the step-aside rules.

He added there was reluctance from national leaders to directly condemn those standing for positions despite pending court cases due to the support base.

Gumede’s win in eThekwini is expected to boost former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s ambitions in the race for the party’s number one position in December. 

In Mpumalanga, Msibi's chairperson, Mandla Ndlovu, publicly endorsed President Cyril Ramaphosa to serve for a second term.

Ndletyana said NEC members had direct interest in the provincial and regional conference outcomes. "They are cognisant of their influence in the ANC and don’t want to alienate them completely.

"There is double-handedness here because these are typical power brokers and regional leaders. National leaders rely on these guys to rally troupes behind them," he said.

Addressing the branch members voting in leaders facing charges, Ndletyana added that branches and delegates were benefactors of patronage. "It’s a whole network of beneficiaries, including branch members. Branch members are maintained by being given jobs.

"These members don’t give a damn. They support people who take care of them. This is what ANC members have become.

"These are individuals working against the interest of the ANC. These are who you call counter revolutionaries," Ndletyana said.

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