The ANC Women’s League has written to the Mpumalanga ANC to get answers as to why a former MEC charged with child rape was reinstated into the party’s provincial governing structures.

The former MEC was released on R20 000 bail in September, after being charged with allegedly raping his young daughter. His step-son is also a co-accused in the rape. His bail conditions at the time required him to check in at a local police station weekly.

His bail conditions were however relaxed by the Nelspruit magistrates court on Monday, to allow him to get back to his duties for the party in the province. He now only has to report to the police once a month, and this allowance was made to allow him to travel for party-related duties.

A day later, just before the country launched the annual 16 days of activism against women and child abuse, the Mpumalanga ANC reinstated the accused back into the party’s leadership despite the allegations against him. The PEC decided to welcome the the accused back, pending the national executive committee’s (NEC) resolution of the stepping aside of members who face criminal charges.

Sasekane Manzini, provincial ANC Spokesperson said it would be unfair to single him out of several others who also faced charges before a court.

She said “There are many people that are awaiting trial nationally and the national officials are saying they are [engaging] legal counsel on the resolution of the NEC. That will be discussed in the upcoming NEC meeting.

“Because he is not the only one, we want to make sure this is implemented fully… We said, let us allow him also to participate until the NEC clarifies on how this will be implemented moving forward”.

The ANCWL, however, want a clear explanation for the reinstatement of the rape accused. They have sent a letter from their office to the Mpumalanga structure, requesting answers.

“We want to understand what were the reasons behind this. While we believe in the principle of innocence until proven guilty on issues of gender-based violence, we are very much resolute in our campaign for an end to all forms of violence against women, children and vulnerable groups. The position of the ANC reinstating the accused of rape into ANC structures is not removing us as the Women’s League from our position of supporting the victim,” said ANCWL secretary general Meokgo Matuba.

The Women’s League said the party should lead by “theory and practice”.

“As an integral part of the organisation, we will continue to pursue the ANC through these proper internal processes of engaging with them… We are saying to the ANC that they are leading society. They should not only lead in theory but also in practice in the fight against gender-based violence.”

Manzini, however, argued that the suspects’ reinstatement in party ranks does not mean the ANC doesn’t support the victims.

“We will continue to support the victim. We are not saying we are going to treat him differently.”

Meanwhile, the ANC called on all sectors of society to fight the scourge of gender-based violence and to observe the 16 days of activism against gender based violence.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement “We cannot, as a society, afford to turn a blind eye to this scourge. The scale of the impact of GBV in our society places upon us all a responsibility we cannot avoid”.