The ANC in the Western Cape has been thrown into disarray after the party’s top six asked chairman Marius Fransman to “step aside” and provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs was suspended for a second time.
This leaves the party’s provincial office without a leader and with the political futures of Jacobs and Fransman in limbo.
The party’s most powerful leadership structure, the National Working Committee (NWC), on Thursday directed Fransman to “step aside” pending the outcome of a police investigation into a sexual harassment and disciplinary charge laid against him.
Jacobs was to be suspended pending the finalisation of his assault case.
He has 48 hours to give reasons why he should not be suspended.
Jacobs said: “I will abide by and respect the processes of the ANC.”
Fransman is accused of having sexually harassed a young woman while they travelled to the North West for the ANC’s celebrations in Rustenburg earlier this month. The sexual harassment complaint was laid with police in Rustenburg.
Fransman has denied the claims.
He could not be reached for comment.
ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the leadership of the ANC and the NWC took the matter to the party’s integrity committee on Thursday.
“We felt that it was important to ask Fransman to step aside, not step down, pending the finalisation of the work of the integrity committee and the police’s criminal investigation. We thought he should step aside with immediate effect as the chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape.”
Kodwa said the working committee did not pronounce if the move would extend to Fransman’s post as leader of the official opposition in the Western Cape legislature.
Regarding Jacobs, Kodwa said after his special leave was lifted, his case was referred to the NWC.
Jacobs stands accused of assaulting a researcher at the party’s headquarters in Cape Town in November.
“The NWC decided to suspend him and, acting within the constitution, have also asked him to respond to allegations of assault within 48 hours,” Kodwa said.
He said the 48-hour period started on Thursday and Jacobs must respond directly to the party’s secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe.
Party insiders said the leadership vacuum left by national’s decision has left the door open for Fransman’s deputy, Khaya Magaxa, and Jacobs’s deputy, Thandi Manikivana, to take over the reins.
Magaxa is a member of the provincial legislature and also the Western Cape SACP’s provincial secretary.
Sources said Luthuli House on Thursday informed the members of the Western Cape provincial executive committee in a letter about the decision taken regarding the two highest leadership positions in the province.
“The letter signed by Number 1 (President Jacob Zuma), senior party officials and several cabinet ministers, states that the NWC will meet the whole provincial executive committee on Monday,” sources told the Cape Argus.
Kodwa said the meeting had not been confirmed as yet, but national chairwoman Baleka Mbete would address the Western Cape ANC founding celebrations in Grabouw at the weekend.
DA Western Cape deputy leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said the decision regarding Fransman and Jacobs was the first step to cleaning out ANC criminality.
“As the face of the ANC in the Western Cape, Fransman has shown the ANC to be one that has ignored sex crime allegations, nepotism claims, gang connection scandals and votes-for-cash accusations all revolving around Marius Fransman,” he said.IOL