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The big story: Hello, accountability

Some of the weekend’s headlines read more like Hollywood plots than real life. Sadly, “Murder-accused ANC member elected as treasurer-general in Mpumalanga” was truth rather than fiction.

Mandla Msibi stands accused with five others of a double murder. They appeared last month in the Mpumalanga division of the High Court in Mbombela. He has denied the charges and was released on R20 000 bail. But Msibi (and the party members who voted him in) didn’t let this little matter interfere with his political ambitions.

Luckily sanity has prevailed. Two days after the conference the ANC’s treasurer-general, Paul Mashatile, reminded Msibi of the ANC’s step-aside rule. To jog your memory, the resolution was established at the 2017 ANC conference (where Cyril Ramaphosa became party president); it states that all ANC members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside. If they fail to do so, they will be suspended. Msibi decided not to argue Mashatile’s point and has been suspended from both his position and the party.

We would have hoped that a whole provincial leader might have been vetted BEFORE being elected, but at this point, we’ll take what we can get with the ANC. So it’s accountability: 1, ANC-corruptors: 0.

Now the ANC must be consistent in enforcing the rule: As we told you previously, Bathabile Dlamini, president of the ANC Women’s League, was found guilty of perjury last month. The conviction relates to the 2017 social grants debacle that happened on her watch as the then-minister of social development. The step-aside rule means she ought to follow Msibi’s example. Instead, Dlamini and her allies are putting up a fight, much like suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule did when he became the first high ranking member to fall foul of the rule. Msibi’s suspension demonstrates that the momentum in the party is against Dlamini and, perhaps, this will be the start of the ANC heeding voters who rail against corruption in its ranks.