President Cyril Ramaphosa will subject himself to the ANC’s Integrity Commission after surviving a push by senior party members for him to step down, according to reports from the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting at the Saint George Hotel in Pretoria.
Ramaphosa will be the first sitting ANC president to appear before the commission.
Party secretary general Ace Magashule has been summoned to appear before the commission – reportedly after a recent statement that nobody should be expected to step down from senior ANC positions based on unsubstantiated allegations.
Allegations of vote-buying at the ANC’s elective conference at Nasrec in 2017 have been dogging Ramaphosa for the past two years.
The North Gauteng High Court has set aside Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane’s report on Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign but the ruling is being appealed in the Constitutional Court.
Earlier in the day City of Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina picketed outside the hotel, calling for corrupt party leaders to step aside. He said that any party leader who has a court case pending against them should step down from their position – including the president.
“Anyone who has a matter before the court must step aside,“ Masina said referring to the ongoing legal wrangling over Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign.
ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni on Friday called for Ramaphosa to resign over the allegations.
Also on Friday, former president Jacob Zuma, who is himself facing trial for the multibillion rand arms deal, lashed out at Ramaphosa, accusing him of betraying the ANC with his stance against corruption.
In an unprecedented attack, Zuma, whose decade in power was marked by multiple corruption scandals that are still being investigated, accused Ramaphosa of bringing the party into disrepute – a sign of growing divisions within the ANC.
Zuma retains considerable support from a powerful faction within the ANC who it is believed is pushing for Ramaphosa to step down or be recalled.
Ramaphosa has ordered investigations into reports of corruption in the government’s Covid-19 response, including the diversion of funds meant for protective equipment for Covid-19 medics, as well as food handouts.
Many scandals have involved junior ANC members conspiring with family-owned businesses to defraud Covid-19 funds. The president’s own spokesperson Kusela Diko has taken a leave of absence after her husband was implicated in a major tender scandal involving the Gauteng health MEC with whom the couple are close friends.
This week Ramaphosa wrote a letter to ANC members saying its “leaders stand accused of corruption” and that the ANC “does stand as accused number one.”
Zuma, who has so far desisted from making explicit public attacks on his successor, said in response:
“You are the first president of the ANC to stand in public and accuse the ANC of criminality …. This is a devastating statement … I view your letter as a diversion by which you accuse the entire ANC in order to save your own skin.”
Divisions within the ANC could make it harder for Ramaphosa – whose presidency has been dogged by opposition from factions in the party since he took office 2-1/2 years ago – to push through economic reforms needed to revive the country’s struggling economy.