The African National Congress (ANC) has cleared the air on former president Thabo Mbeki’s attendance at its national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which kicked off on Sunday.
Among other issues, the virtual conference is expected to discuss the way forward regarding the constitutionality of its resolution, which called for corruption-accused leaders to step aside.
Numerous reports suggested this was Mbeki’s first NEC meeting since his removal as president. But the ANC says the reports are inaccurate.
“All former presidents of the ANC attend NEC meetings in an ex-officio capacity. It’s inaccurate to suggest that president Mbeki is attending the NEC for the first time. President Mbeki attended previous NEC Lekgotla. We thank him for always honouring NEC engagements when available,” said the ruling party.
The former president was defeated by Jacob Zuma, an ally of the party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule, at the ANC’s 52nd conference in 2007 in Polokwane.
Reports of his attendance were accompanied by allegations he was roped in by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction to support him as the party debates the way forward on its problematic resolution.
In a letter in August, Ramaphosa called on corruption-accused leaders to step aside, receiving criticism from, among others, Zuma.
The letter reads in part: “The time has come for the ANC to be unflinching in restoring the values, ethics, and standing of our organisation. Our deeds must, always, match our words. We cannot as the ANC rightfully call ourselves leaders of society if we fail to lead the people in eradicating corruption from our own ranks.
“Those charged are required to insulate the African National Congress from reputational damage arising from their personal challenges by stepping aside while their cases are being heard. To address corruption in the ANC, we must Implement without delay the resolutions of our 54th National Conference on dealing with corruption, including that every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices must account to the Integrity Commission immediately or face disciplinary processes.
“People who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative, or prosecutorial procedures should be summarily suspended. The ANC should publicly disassociate itself from anyone, whether business donor, supporter or member, accused of corruption or reported to be involved in corruption.”
Magashule is facing 21 fraud, corruption, and money-laundering charges, linked to the R255 million Free State asbestos project. He handed himself over to the Hawks last month following a warrant of arrest that was issued against him.
He was released on R200,000 bail after appearing in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.