African National Congress (ANC) deputy secretary-general (SG) Jessie Duarte told media on Tuesday that she was not acting as the party’s secretary-general, following the suspension of Ace Magashule, but rather she was carrying out the functions as prescribed by the ANC during his suspension.
Magashule was suspended for refusing to abide by the party’s step-aside policy, which requires members facing charges of corruption to step-aside from their roles.
Duarte said his suspension would be reviewed from time to time and was entirely dependent on the outcome of his court case, in which he had been charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering.
She stressed that the suspension was not to target Magashule but rather that it was exercising an ANC constitutional obligation.
Magashule has also been asked to apologise for writing a letter seeking the suspension of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa or he would face disciplinary action from the ANC.
Duarte said the party was confident that the suspended secretary-general would rise to the occasion and follow the dictates of the ANC constitution.
“The NEC [National Executive Committee] decision is that the SG should apologise to the ANC community and to South Africans. This letter that suspends a sitting president in the manner that it was done could have had many repercussions,” she said and revealed that the ANC had received calls from other countries to verify the letter.
Duarte said there was a need for retraction. When asked for the time frame in which Magashule was expected to apologise, Duarte said following Ramaphosa’s address on Monday, the expectation was that it would be within 48 hours.
However, she stressed that the NEC meeting did not yield a time frame.
“We hope within this week we would see the SG apologise and we encourage him to do so,” Duarte said.
She reiterated that the NEC is committed to rebuilding the party despite current challenges.
Meanwhile, suspended ANC members will be allowed remuneration as per the guidelines of the Labour Relations Act and their suspension will be reviewed after six months.
Duarte said Parliament would provide guidance on full pay for those serving in Parliament.
"Those who step aside voluntarily – if branches nominate any of these people who have been asked to step aside the branch should have to be advised that the person does face a criminal charge. If they insist they want to go ahead with the nomination and they elect the person, that person will have to step aside again. It is a difficult one but it is a right of a person and you have to respect the rights of a person,” Duarte stated.
She advised that anyone voluntarily joining the ANC would be required to take an oath and agree to abide by the ANC constitution.