The ANC in Mpumalanga has yielded to a public outcry and backtracked on its decision to reinstate a man to the provincial executive committee (PEC) who has been charged with raping his daughters.
Provincial spokesperson Sesekani Manzini confirmed to TimesLIVE that the PEC rescinded its decision to reinstate the member accused of raping his eight-year-old twin daughters.
“Yes, he has been asked to step aside. We will release a statement that will explain this decision,” said Manzini.
This follows an outcry not only from the public but also from national ANC officials at Luthuli House. The party took heavy criticism from deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte over its decision to reinstate the member, but remained adamant that the decision was fair.
The ANC in Mpumalanga had argued that while members facing criminal charges are asked to step aside from party activity, it was the national executive that should formulate guidelines and, until then, the PEC would allow the rape accused to participate in party activities until the matter was finalised.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the two children, is on R20,000 bail.
In a statement issued on Thursday night, acting provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the party noted the “social discontent” over its decision to reinstate the man.
“The ANC … will never ignore the voices of the people and as a result convened a special PEC meeting on Thursday November 26 2020 to deliberate on the matter, taking into cognisance the reaction of our people to the internal discussion and decision taken on the matter.
“The ANC PEC took the decision to summarily suspend the affected member to step aside pending the outcomes of the case against him, informed by the resolutions of the most recent National Executive Committee meeting of the ANC and the 54th National Conference, which resolved that all members charged for corruption and other serious crimes should step aside from all activities associated with the ANC,” Ntshalintshali said.
Earlier in the day, Deputy President David Mabuza expressed concern about the Mpumalanga ANC’s decision to reinstate to its ranks a member charged with such a serious crime.
Mabuza made the remarks while responding to questions from MPs during a sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday when opposition MPs from the DA, the FF Plus and the ACDP put him under pressure on the issue.
This was before the ANC Mpumalanga announcement.
The MPs raised the issue after it emerged that the PEC had resolved to allow him to resume his party duties despite the pending criminal matter.
The MPs slammed the ANC’s decision as “outrageous” and a slap in the face of government’s 16 days of activism for no violence against of women and children campaign, which was launched this week.
The DA’s Nazley Sharif said it was “absolutely tragic” to witness the ANC’s hypocrisy when it came to issues of gender-based violence and demanded that Mabuza explain to survivors of rape why the ruling party reinstated the MEC while his matter was still pending in court.
The MEC cannot be named to protect the identity of his children.
The ANC reinstated the official after the Nelspruit magistrate’s court relaxed his bail conditions after his release on R20,000 bail. The man received a hero’s welcome and was paraded and carried on his comrades’ shoulders when he was released on bail in October.
Mabuza — who said the matter would be dealt with through the internal processes of the ANC — said he shared the concerns raised by MPs.
“I understand very well your concern about that decision about the provincial executive committee of the ANC to readmit a member that is alleged to have raped two young children.
“Well it’s a matter that affects the ANC and you are correct to raise your concern, but let’s allow the ANC to deal with that matter. But all of us must be very sensitive about issues that affect women and children,” Mabuza said.
“Whatever your status in society, it’s very important that we should respect women, we should respect girl children.”
But the FF Plus’s Heloise Denner slammed Mabuza’s response as inadequate, particularly within the context of the ANC’s “step aside” resolution for its MPs facing criminal charges and other forms of wrongdoing.
Mabuza again deferred the matter to the ANC and said he did not wish to “deliberate” further on it.
“But of course as leaders in government, we are standing ready to fight the scourge of gender-based violence right from our political parties where we come from. We must lead by example and we are calling for that, that all of us in those parties where we come from we must lead by example,” he said.
Eyewitness News reported on Thursday that ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte felt the reinstatement decision was “insensitive” and went against the party’s objectives.
By Zimasa Matiwane – TimesLIVE