It is unclear how the ANC intends to deal with MPs facing corruption charges without flouting Parliamentary rules.
This comes as the ANC national executive committee resolved that all its leaders and members who have criminal charges against them step aside from all their positions within the party and in government.
The move was part of the ANC’s attempt to shake off the stench of corruption from its brand as allegations of wrongdoing by leaders continue to mount.
Following its special NEC meeting at the weekend, the party’s top brass said the party was now drawing a line in the sand, with three possible fates facing those implicated in criminal activities.
Those charged for prosecution will be expected to temporarily step aside from their posts while awaiting the verdict on the charges against them while those who still faced allegations without formal charges would be instructed to subject themselves before the party’s integrity commission.
Parliament’s rules on attendance and absence of MPs stipulates that political parties can only grant their members leave periods that do not exceed 15 consecutive sitting days in a session particularly if they are not on maternity, parental/adoption leave.
The rules, however, allow for the extended leave of absence through a motion for several reasons including sickness, as had been the case for the late struggle icon Winnie Mandela who spent much time away from the National Assembly during her time as an MP.
“The motion presented to the House must state the reasons for the request and the period for which continued leave of absence is sought. If the motion requesting a leave of absence is rejected by the House, the reasons for such rejection must be put to the House by way of a formal amendment to the motion, and the motion as amended must be supplied to the member and the member’s party in Parliament without delay,” The rules stipulate.
It is unclear how opposition parties will react to the use of implication in criminal charges by the ANC as the basis for granting its MPs leave of absence.
ANC MP Bongani Bongo has indicated that he will be among the first to step aside after the ANC issued the directive, as he faces corruption charges relating to his alleged attempt to bribe an evidence leader in Parliament’s probe into Eskom’s governance.
Parliament’s Moloto Mothapo said the National Assembly had not received any communication from the ANC on Bongo’s purported leave of absence.