Mduduzi Manana defends his NEC re-election

Former Higher Education and Training deputy minister Mduduzi Manana has responded to concerns about his re-election to the ANC national executive committee (NEC) at the Nasrec and Expo centre on Wednesday.

This after various organisations decried his re-election and questioned the ANC’s commitment to rooting out the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) after having allowed the re-election of Manana, who was previously convicted of assaulting women.

Manana was number two on the list of 80 additional NEC members announced at the Nasrec Expo centre on Wednesday. In a total number of votes cast, Manana received 2 152 votes, ahead of former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, who got 2 218 votes.

Before the ANC’s 55th National Conference commenced on December 16, Manana was disqualified from contesting the NEC positions after failing vetting process. The party’s electoral committee said at the time that members previously convicted of wrongdoing and sentenced for longer than six months cannot contest for leadership positions in the NEC, when the elective conference get underway.

However, he appealed his disqualification, and was cleared.

In September 2017, Manana pleaded guilty and was convicted on three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after he attacked three women at a nightclub in Johannesburg.

He was later sentenced to one year in jail or a fine of R100 000 and further ordered to complete 500 hours of community service at Valued Citizen Initiative, a leadership, social justice and life skills programme NGO.

Responding to the concerns in a statement, the erstwhile deputy minister said he has been rehabilitated and that it would not be fair for society to persecute him further.

Reads the statement: “It is my considered submission that, only a sick society can persecute a person in perpetuity even after he/she has made tremendous amends, turned a new leaf, showed remorse and took responsibility for his/her actions.

“Anti-GBV organisations and/or activists have a responsibility to heal our broken society and even accept when people undergo or have undergone a process of reform and rehabilitation. They simply can’t turn a blind eye. How else does one pay for his dues other than to reform and turn a new leaf.”

In his defence, Manana said in recognition of his former high office in the interest of the ANC, he decided to resign “without hesitation” when the incident happened, adding that he also left all his party positions for the party’s sake and to undergo rehabilitation.

“Surely, a normal society, is one that should recognise that five years later, one would have served the punishment for his/her unacceptable behaviour unless he/she repeats the same offence without any show of penitence.

“The criminal justice system has adopted an approach to punishment that not only seeks to deter the offender from committing further crimes, but also to bring about reform. Sentencing in particular, is intended to not condemn the offender but to reform the offender, thereby ensuring that the offender assimilates back into society as a law-abiding citizen,” he said.

Manana, who feels society is persecuting him unfairly, is arguing that when a person has been rehabilitated, they ought to be “incorporated back into society”.

“Incorporation back into society invariably means that the individual concerned should be able to assume employment or take up public office.

“It is, therefore, humbling that one received such a high number of votes, and this a great showing of confidence in my leadership by the overwhelming majority of our branches and even South Africans is indicative of a society that forgives, and one that believes in people’s rehabilitation. I, too, remain an anti-Gender Based Violence activist, just as we all should be (past victims of GBV, reformed perpetrators and other men and women of honour who despise any form of violence directed especially at women and children),” he said.

Manana’s leadership may be lambasted by many, but is celebrated within the ANC, which showed their support for him in large numbers during the conference. He has vowed to uphold his mandate as a member of the party’s highest decision-making structure.

“Lastly, to the branches of the ANC and delegates to the 55th ANC National Conference, I will carry this humbling mandate to serve with humility, and I commit to do right to your organisation, to be part of the broader renewal programme of the ANC and to live up to the expectations of the South African people,” Manana concluded.

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