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Ramaphosa puts his foot down on calls to scrap step-aside rule

29 July 2022 - 16:03
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the opening address on July 29 2022, at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, during the opening ceremony of the ANC national policy conference.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the opening address on July 29 2022, at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, during the opening ceremony of the ANC national policy conference.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has told the party’s national policy conference in Nasrec in the south of Johannesburg that the party will not abandon measures it adopted five years ago to fight corruption.

ANC provincial structures in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo want the step-aside resolution abolished or radically reviewed, claiming it is being used for factional and internal battles.

Though he did not use the phrase “step-aside”, Ramaphosa made it clear the party will not reverse its position on the rule.

“To renew the ANC we must be able to end a number of bad practices that have seeped into our organisation.

“This requires, among other things, that we fully implement our 54th conference resolutions. On this there can be no going back and there can be no compromise.”

The step-aside rule requires those facing corruption or criminal charges to voluntarily vacate their positions until they have dealt with their legal challenges.

The amended version of the rule also prohibits those affected from standing for leadership positions.

This has been met with a fightback from some who feel the rule is divisive and being used to deal with Ramaphosa’s political opponents.

Secretary-general Ace Magashule was suspended when he failed to voluntarily vacate his position after being charged with corruption in the R250m asbestos eradication tender in the Free State.

Other provincial leaders, including Limpopo strongman Danny Msiza, eThekwini regional chair Zandile Gumede and Mpumalanga treasurer Mandla Msibi have been affected by the rule due to their legal battles.

We cannot abandon our principle positions, for instance on issues such as corruption, in pursuit of a false unity. Our movement must be united around values and our mission
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa said the party could not abandon rules to maintain fabricated unity.

“We cannot abandon our principle positions, for instance on issues such as corruption, in pursuit of a false unity. Our movement must be united around values and our mission.

“It must be united against corruption, patronage and factionalism. The people of SA will not forgive us if we abandon the correct positions we have taken on confronting wrongdoing within our ranks.”

Ramaphosa also called on the almost 2,000 delegates to look into the issue of declaring financial interests of political and government leaders.

“As we chart the way forward, comrades, we must clarify our positions on a number of issues, for instance on how financial issues, financial interests, should be declared by ANC leaders, conduct of lifestyle audits and our policy on ANC leaders and many others who get involved in acts that are inconsistent with our constitution.”

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