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Bongani Bongo under pressure to step down

2019-12-02 00:55

Cadres are invoking a Nasrec resolution to force out the former minister accused of corruption relating to attempts at bribery.

Pressure is mounting for former state security minister Bongani Bongo to step down from his responsibilities ahead of this week’s sitting of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).

Members of the ANC Veterans’ League have now been joined by the integrity commission in their call for Bongo to step aside, following his appearance at the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court last week on charges of corruption.

Bongo, who currently serves as chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs, has maintained his innocence of charges relating to allegedly attempting to bribe the evidence leader of Parliament’s Eskom inquiry in 2017.

In a statement last week, integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba called on the NEC to reprimand Bongo for implying that fellow NEC member and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan was behind his legal woes and even his recent poisoning.

REBUKE

“The integrity commission recommends that the NEC rebuke and seriously caution comrade Bongo against casting aspersions on other comrades, thus causing unnecessary tensions and divisions in the ANC, which in turn impacts negatively on its integrity in the public eye. The commission also recommends that Bongo be advised that if and when he has any issue with any comrade he should make use of the internal structures and processes of the ANC,” the statement reads.

Mashamba told City Press on Saturday that although the matter had not been referred to the commission by any structure of the organisation, they had decided to issue the statement based on numerous media enquiries.

On whether or not the commission has consistency issues, Mashamba said matters were dealt with “on a case-by-case basis”.

You must remember that we only meet twice a month and our members are spread out across the country ... so we can’t meet all the time with every matter which arises.
Integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba

He said a number of cases were before the commission, including that of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.

Bongo said he found the approach of the integrity commission interesting, given that he was hearing that he was in its line of sight for the first time through a media statement.

“They have not spoken to me. I have not received any communication, so I would suggest that you speak to [ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule] instead,” he said on Saturday.

He has also questioned the commission’s position that he cast aspersions on Gordhan, saying the commission was not present when the two of them allegedly spoke and so it was impossible for it to reach that conclusion.

CALL ME FIRST

“My understanding is that they must call me first before deliberating on matters, but they have chosen to treat me in this way.

“But I don’t want to take that approach and engage them through the media, I will wait to hear from them,” Bongo said when asked if he plans on making representations before the integrity commission.

He also maintained that Gordhan did, in fact, make threatening remarks, which Bongo subsequently reported to Magashule, who was not available for comment on Saturday.

Meanwhile, members of the veterans’ league, who formed part of the 101 stalwarts who championed the call for former president Jacob Zuma to resign, said last week that the stance of the ANC in the Bongo matter had the effect of rubber-stamping bad behaviour.

We, the members of the ANC Veterans’ League, express our deep concern at the stance of ANCspokesperson [Pule Mabe] regarding the arrest of Bongo on charges of bribing a parliamentary judicial officer.

“Invoking his presumed innocence is a disappointing signal of tolerance for unethical conduct,” the statement read.

Quoting from resolutions of the ANC’s 2017 national conference, the veterans say it is clear that “every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices account to the integrity commission immediately or face disciplinary committee processes”.

It was resolved in that conference that the party would “summarily suspend people who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures”.

“We do not pronounce on the guilt or innocence of Bongo, but the National Prosecuting Authority has charged him and he will appear in the high court in January.

“Ignoring our own resolutions, taken by the highest structure of the ANC, is not an option.

“We realise that this will only be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the NEC and we call on the NEC to implement the resolution of the 54th national conference in regard to Bongo and any other ANC members who have brought the organisation into disrepute.

“The ANC must hold itself to the standards set by its constitution, conference resolutions and national policy positions.”

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina told the media on the day of Bongo’s arrest that the party would have to reconsider his position in Parliament.

Bongo, who is out on R5 000 bail, is set to be back in court in January.


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December 8 2019