In case you’ve missed the noise around the ANC’s proposed step aside policy, we’ll get you up to speed. 

The ANC announced plans in November to include the step-aside rule in its constitution to sanction party leaders who are faced with criminal charges pending investigations. 

Even the President himself has no immunity to the rule. Some factions in the African National Congress (ANC) are calling for the President to step aside pending investigations into the Phala Phala saga and CR’s other corruption allegations

Although the step-aside rule is only recently finding its way onto the ANC’s official documents, it’s not new to the party’s politics – there is precedent, Mr President. Ace Magashule’s suspension from the ANC pending cases of corruption is a more recent example. 

  • Glencore, Ramaphosa’s other headache:
    • In November 2022, the UK government ordered Glencore Energy UK to pay £280.9 billion after a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation revealed it paid US $29 million in bribes to secure its access to oil in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Sudan.
    • What relevance does that have in South Africa? Our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, served as chairperson at Glencore’s coal mine Optimum. Yes, the same Optimum mine that the Guptas had shares in through Tegeta holdings.
    • And the same Optimum that former Eskom CEOs Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko have used to call the President’s involvement in state capture into question.
    • Optimum was Eskom’s biggest coal supplier, but the mine went into business rescue. Then Eskom pre-purchased coal for 12 months for R1.6 billion, which was paid to Tegeta and the Guptas used as a guarantee in order to purchase Optimum.
    • Glencore also owns Astron Energy – the Caltex rebrand – and is on track to reopen the Cape Town refinery before the close of 2022

As one would expect with uncodified rules, there have been complaints concerning the lack of consistency in applying the rule previously. However, with the decision to cast the rule in stone, inconsistency could soon be a thing of the past.

ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola says including the rule in the ruling party’s constitution will ensure consistency and transparency. “Everyone will know when and how it should be applied”, says Lamola. 

In response to continuous calls for Ramaphosa to step aside, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says the president will gladly step aside only if he’s charged.  

“The constitutionally enshrined presumption of innocence until proven guilty remains and so I guess the question is best posed to those who have made the call for the president to step aside as to what informs those calls”, says Magwenya.

As it stands, there are currently no criminal charges levelled against Ramaphosa, but only investigations which the president is fully cooperating with, Magwenya says.

A happy 70th birthday to you, sir. But please address these issues as a gift to South Africa.

/section 89/

This section of the South African Constitution is titled Removal of President and lists the powers of the National Assembly to remove a sitting president from office if a two thirds majority vote is reached. Grounds for removal are limited to: (a) a serious violation of the Constitution or the law; (b) serious misconduct; or (c) inability to perform the functions of office.

Update [1/1/2022] – Phala Phala problem erupts

President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing serious charges related to a burglary that took place at his Phala Phala farm on 9 February 2020. There was no record of a formal case registered at the SAPS station in Bela Bela, and the incident only became public knowledge after former Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser released a sworn statement on 1 June 2022.
“The mere fact that President Ramaphosa had large undisclosed sums of foreign currency in the form US$
concealed in his furniture at his Phala Phala residence is prima facie proof of money laundering in contravention of section 4 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act No. 121 of 1998,” said Fraser before urging the SAPS “to establish the origins of these large sums of foreign currency.”
The Speaker of the National Assembly was then presented with a Notice of Motion by the House that listed the following charges:
Charge 1: A serious violation of section 96 of the Constitution – the President is guilty of serious violation of section 96(2)(a) of the Constitution, which provides that members of the Cabinet and Deputy Ministers
may not undertake any other paid work.
Charge 2: A serious violation of the Law – the President is guilty of serious violation of section 34(1) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004 (Act No 12 of 2004) (the Act), which places a duty on any person to report corrupt transactions to any police official.
Charge 3: Serious Misconduct – the President is guilty of serious misconduct by violating section 96(2)(b) of
the Constitution, which provides that Members of the Cabinet and Deputy Ministers may not, inter alia, expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests.
Charge 4: Serious Misconduct – the President is guilty of serious misconduct by violating section 96(2)(b) of
the Constitution, which provides that Members of the Cabinet and Deputy Ministers may not, inter alia, act in a way that is inconsistent with their office.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula appointed an independent panel that released its report on 30 November 2022 finding that:
– There was a deliberate intention not to investigate the commission of the crimes committed at Phala Phala openly.
– The misconduct based on violations of the provisions of section 96(2)(b) and the violation of section 34(1) of PRECCA were committed to keep the investigation a secret.The request to the Namibian Police to “handle the matter with discretion” confirms this intention.
– The President abused his position as Head of State to have the matter investigated and seeking the assistance of the Namibian President to apprehend a suspect.
– There was more foreign currency concealed in the sofa than the amount reflected in the acknowledgement of receipt. This raises the source of the additional currency.

We are following the story closely.