ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe says the governing party’s contentious step aside resolution is not a tool to target specific individuals in the organisation.
Speaking on Thursday evening during a Zoom lecture on revolutionary morality, Mantashe said the ANC was implementing the resolution in order to “cleanse itself” and protect its reputation as South Africa’s liberation movement.
“This resolution is not about constitutionalism, it is about the reputation of the movement as a revolutionary movement in the eyes of society,” Mantashe said.
Mantashe also admitted that implementing the resolution had not been easy for the party.
“It is a painful process for the ANC to navigate through the journey of cleansing itself. From the page of cultural revolutions, the Chinese Communist Party had to embark on a painful journey of dealing with, not only mosquitoes, but also tigers.
“And in China, dealing with these mosquitoes and tigers includes a life and death sentence [and] eliminating highly respected people by fire.”
The event was hosted by the ANC in the Sarah Baartman region in the Eastern Cape.
Mantashe’s address comes as suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule has taken the ANC to court to overturn his suspension.
He argues that the resolution was adopted to target him ahead of the party’s 2022 elective conference.
The ANC resolution was adopted by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) in March and comes from its 2017 Nasrec elective conference.
The resolution requires ANC party members facing criminal charges to step aside pending the conclusion of their cases.
Mantashe said before the NEC decided to implement the resolution, there were many ANC members who had voluntarily stepped down from their positions due to the serious charges they faced.
He cited as examples Tony Yengeni and Dina Pule who volunteered to step aside from their posts due to serious allegations against them.
Mantashe said even former president Jacob Zuma decided to step down in 2005 as the country’s deputy president because of his arms deal corruption case.
“The conference resolved that people who are found guilty or arrested or alleged to be involved in corruption must be asked to step aside. Now the assumption made by the conference is that revolutionaries will have a conscience of their own.
“Therefore stepping aside will be a voluntary action. We have seen it many times in the movement where people have stepped aside in the name of the ANC,” he said.
Mantashe said the ANC should continue to talk about “its internal weaknesses so that the ANC is here in another 100 years”.