24 August 2020 – 14:37
There is serious dissonance between the way the president is running the country and the ANC is running its affairs as regards the application of the principal of precautionary suspensions.
This dissonance is best illustrated by the precautionary suspension of Public Investment Corporation (PIC) staff by the president on the one hand, and the fresh deployment of former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede by the ANC on the other. Gumede is facing fraud and corruption charges, despite which she has been made an ANC MPL in KwaZulu-Natal by the structures of the ANC in that province.
The notion of a precautionary suspension is a salutary one. The people so suspended are given the opportunity of clearing their names, either in criminal proceedings or otherwise, and the suspension serves to protect the public weal and the good reputation of their political party or other employer.
The ANC has an integrity committee that is well able to decide whether members facing criminal charges of a serious nature should be required to explain themselves and account for their alleged misconduct before any new deployment. This procedure enables the ANC to decide whether its reputation and image are deleteriously affected by the redeployment of any members who find themselves under a dark cloud of the type pending criminal charges generate.
The criminal law rule that one is “innocent until proven guilty” has no application in the context of ensuring clean governance by any political party that is worthy of support at the polls. Public representatives are not meant to be people facing criminal charges, they are meant to be exemplary citizens capable of properly advancing openness, accountability and responsiveness to the needs of ordinary people.
The ANC would do well to follow the lead of the president.
Paul Hoffman, SC, Accountability Now