OPINION: ANC leadership must now enforce step-aside edict
The ANC's 30-day step-aside deadline has come and passed.
Judging from the passage of the resolution at the 54th Conference held in December 2017 at Nasrec, Johannesburg, and recent spirited public discussion, most ANC members and supporters are favourably disposed towards the policy.
This is because for well over a century, the majority of South Africans came to identify with the broad thrust of the ANC’s political outlook even as they may not necessarily be its card-carrying members.
They identified with the non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous SA which the ANC has espoused over the decades; and understood that its achievement during the decades of the anti-apartheid struggle, and after, required an unwavering commitment to ethics.
It was commitment to this outlook which inspired delegates to the 54th Conference to resolve that ANC members and leaders implicated in questionable conduct must step aside from leadership positions until they are cleared.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that over the years, the ANC brand has suffered immense harm not only from acts of corruption by its members but also the movement’s less than adequate consequence management for members accused of corruption and the weakening of law enforcement institutions.
The step-aside resolution therefore forms part of a package of measures required for the renewal process so that the ANC reinvigorates itself as a principled and ethical political formation which responds to the needs of the people of SA and not a get-rich-quick scheme for its leaders and a connected few.
Some within our ranks are hell-bent on a puerile legalistic interpretation of the step-aside resolution, wrongly arguing that it offends against the constitution of the republic. They should be reminded that the ANC is a voluntary political formation with a long-established value system, culture, traditions and rules. Its value system, culture and traditions inform the rules. It is not the rules per se that inform the value system, culture and politics of the ANC!
A narrow legalistic interpretation of the step-aside resolution makes a mockery of the legitimacy crisis that the ANC brand faces; not to mention problems of service delivery, accountability and the quality democratic itself. If the ANC succumbs to these narrow legalistic demands, it runs the risk of becoming a legal rather than a political institution. In other words, it will cease to be the political formation that it is and should be. It will render itself ineffectual and become prisoner of those of its members who live outside the bounds of the its own and the national law at the expense of the people of SA.
One cannot stress the point enough that the very survival of the ANC as a movement for progressive social change depends on the speed, seriousness and rigour with which it cleanses and renews itself in the interest of the people.
Perhaps the time has come for those who find the ANC’s value system, culture, traditions and rules too onerous to look for a political home whose moral elasticity accords with their own.
By agitating to undermine a conference resolution, the so-called constitutionalists are in fact conspiring against ANC law in much the same way that they often conspire against the very constitution of the republic they now conveniently profess to be its faithful defenders. ANC members and the people of SA should be more discerning.
Now that the 30-day step-aside deadline has lapsed, the national leadership of the ANC should advisedly convene on an urgent basis to enforce the step-aside resolution without delay. To do otherwise would be to subvert ANC law, its values and traditions. From then on, it might be an unmitigated downward spiral.
* Adv Mudunungu is the ANC’s regional secretary in Vhembe, Limpopo. He writes here in his personal capacity.