The African National Congress expects law-enforcement agencies to investigate several violent incidents that have been taking place at some of its recent branch meetings across the country. This is according to the ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, who informed the media on Wednesday that the decision was taken at a meeting of the ANC national working committee, which is the structure that oversees the party’s day-to-day operations.
This comes as more than 4,000 ANC branches across South Africa are in the process of electing new leaders and also selecting ward councilor candidates ahead of the local government elections on October 27. This comes after party president Cyril Ramaphosa last week condemned the shooting of two people and the injuring of 16 more at an ANC branch meeting in Lephalale, Limpopo.
In another incident, an ANC candidate was stabbed to death at a branch meeting in the Eastern Cape town of Flagstaff last Sunday, after a battle over the ward candidacy. Duarte did not mention specific incidents in her statement but made it clear that the ANC wanted law-enforcement agencies to investigate the party’s deadly meetings. She added that they also wanted affected provincial ANC structures to conduct their own investigations into the incidents.
“The NWC called for these incidents to be investigated speedily and comprehensively by law-enforcement agencies and for ANC provincial structures to investigate and take decisive organisational and disciplinary action,” Duarte said.
Duarte also voiced concerns that female candidates were being sidelined at the branch meetings.
“All these processes are robust and vibrant, and an expression of the mass and participatory character of the ANC, as well as its commitment to internal democracy,” Duarte said.
“In this context, the NWC expressed its harshest condemnation for the isolated, yet extremely serious, incidents of violence and loss of life at ANC branch and candidate selection meetings. The NWC particularly condemned the use of violence, intimidation and threats to prevent the full participation of women in ANC processes, and reminded all ANC members that the principles of non-sexism and gender equality are sacrosanct.”
The ANC NWC welcomed the electoral court’s decision to postpone 120 by-elections that had been scheduled for Wednesday, due to the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown restrictions. Duarte said that the ANC would be joining other political parties and interested bodies in making oral submissions before former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is leading an IEC-sanctioned inquiry to determine whether the October 27 municipal elections would be free and fair under lockdown restrictions.
Concerning other internal ANC matters, Duarte said that her office had “requested updates” from the provinces on the implementation of the step-aside rule, which calls for those facing corruption or criminal charges in court to vacate their positions. This was despite ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule challenging the rule in court after it was implemented to suspend him following the institution of criminal and corruption charges against him by the NPA.
“The NWC reiterated the position of the regulations, that any member charged in a court of law of corruption or other serious crimes must step aside and a member accused of corruption or other abuses in other formal processes must present themselves to the integrity commission,” she said.