The ANC is concerned that it is perceived to be on trial at the commission of inquiry into state capture, party deputy secretary General Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday.
Duarte expressed this concern following the resignation of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister on Tuesday after he told the commission, headed by Judge Raymond Zondo, that he had met with the controversial Gupta family at least six times during his tenure as deputy finance minister, as well as during the early stages of his first stint as head of Treasury. This despite previously indicating that he had only met the family in social settings.
The Gupta family, who are at the centre of state capture allegations, have been accused of having had undue influence over former president Jacob Zuma and state-owned enterprises.
On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Nene with former governor of the South African Reserve Bank Tito Mboweni.
“Yes, the perceptions are that the ANC is on trial and of course we are concerned about that,” Duarte said.
“However, what we are more concerned about is that, whatever generates perceptions at the Zondo commission, must be based on facts.”
Duarte added that, while the party was concerned that the commission may not be concluded by the 2019 elections, the ANC was encouraging its members to tell the truth.
The party wouldn’t say if Nene’s resignation had set a precedent for other state officials implicated in impropriety to also step down.
“When a person has been found guilty and sentenced by a court, the ANC’s view is then that that person must step down, as is the case with John Block in the Northern Cape,” Duarte said
‘There is a notion of innocence until proven guilty’
Block, the former Northern Cape ANC chairperson, resigned shortly after he was found guilty in October 2015 on charges of corruption and money laundering.
“While people are still on trial, and they have been accused, we must also respect the fact that there is a notion of innocence until proven guilty,” Duarte insisted.
“You are not guilty first, you’re accused – there are slight nuances. Those who go must tell the truth and, if it’s going to be a harmful truth, then they must suffer the consequences.”
Duarte also expressed concern about the emphasis placed on the number of times officials met with the Guptas at their Saxonwold home in Johannesburg.
“We haven’t talked to comrade Nene and so, at the moment, until we have had the opportunity as the ANC to have discussions with him, we don’t want to be judging him,” she said.
“The conclusion that is made… he didn’t divulge how many times he went to meet with the Guptas. It’s more important to know what he discussed there, even if he went there once. This counting of time becomes quite irrelevant, frankly.”
The commission has since been postponed until November 12 after an application to have former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan’s testimony postponed was submitted on Wednesday./News24