Barring criminally charged from contesting ANC posts puts SA first — Mashatile
The ANC has defended its decision to bar criminally charged members from availing themselves for election to positions, saying the party has listened to concerns by South Africans.
The party's highest decision-making body, the national executive committee, decided at its meeting at the weekend to close a loop in its step-aside rule that saw criminally charged members being elected for leadership positions.
Addressing the media on Thursday, treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said the party had to choose between its comrades and friends who are facing charges or South Africans who are worried that the ANC keeps electing people who have cases in court.
“The NEC decided to choose the people,” Mashatile said, adding that this decision affected even their friends.
“Our comrades will be affected but we are listening to the people. We looked at it at the NEC but we felt that this is about the ANC, not the individuals,” Mashatile said.
“Here we are protecting the organisation and not ourselves — and once you put the interests of the ANC first, you have to make difficult decisions that may affect even your friends in the organisation or comrades that you like — but the ANC must come first.”
He was responding to questions around the timing of the decision which effectively shuts out political opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa, such as Ace Magashule. Magashule is on suspension after failing to voluntarily step aside when he was charged in the corruption case in the Free State.
“It’s a correct observation, we’re taking a decision at a very difficult time,” Mashatile said.
“There are some, if you follow public discourse, who are saying you are making this decision because you want to prevent so-and-so. It’s not true, but it is a perception that is really out there — because it does mean that those who had an opportunity to stand now no longer have it if they are [forced to] step aside. So somebody can read it that way, that you are doing this to prevent so-and-so.”
Those who have already been elected are, however, not affected — including Gumede and Msibi.
This means only those in upcoming branch, regional, provincial and national conferences will be affected.
“When we adopted these guidelines last year, we did say that this is a living document which can be enriched from time to time as there are new developments, so it's not cast in stone,” Mashatile said.
“We realised that in the past weeks there have been debates in the public arena about members of the ANC who had stepped aside but still accepted nomination. So the NEC had to look at that issue again.”
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