South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) had decided to retain its rule that anyone charged with corruption or other crimes must step down while they are being investigated.
"The overwhelming view of the policy conference is for the retention of the step-aside provisions to enhance the integrity of the movement and its leadership," Ramaphosa told delegates, wrapping up three days of talks in Johannesburg to map out the party's direction.
These "must receive urgent attention so that the application of the guidelines is impartial, is fair and is consistent", he added.
Under the step-aside rule, which was agreed in 2017, ANC members charged with serious crimes have 30 days to leave their post or face suspension.
The most prominent figure to face the axe was former secretary general Ace Magashule, a Zuma ally, who was suspended last year over corruption allegations.
Members of an ANC faction loyal to former President Jacob Zuma - who is being investigated for corruption but denies wrongdoing - wanted the rule scrapped, arguing that it was being used to persecute political opponents with trumped up charges.
Scrapping the rule would have allowed potential challengers to vie against Ramaphosa for the ANC ticket in 2024 presidential elections - especially Ace Magashule.
Opening the conference on Friday, the president scolded the ANC for losing public trust, saying the party was weaker than at any time since it ended white minority rule in 1994. Support for the ANC dipped below 50 percent for the first time in local polls last November.
The ANC has been in power for nearly three decades, but it faces public anger over worsening electricity blackouts, poor or non-existent basic services, a sluggish economy, corrupt procurement tenders and crime-related shootings.
Critics charge that the Ramaphosa government lacks a national plan to tackle poverty, inequality and 34.5-percent unemployment worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, or even provide basic services such as electricity and water.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa said the party had resolved to tackle all of these problems and to alleviate widespread poverty in the nation of about 60 million.
He also said the party had reaffirmed its position that the privately-owned central bank should be nationalized.
Ramaphosa himself faces a police investigation of his finances after thieves stole $4 million from his farm in June, and his opponents are hoping to use this to unseat him.
If he is charged with any irregularity - such as failing to declare the money to tax authorities or violating exchange controls - then he himself might be forced to step aside.
Ramaphosa says the money was proceeds from sales of game animals on the farm, and has welcomed the investigation.
This report was sourced from information provided by Reuters and Agence France-Presse.