“The step-aside policy is one of the most divisive issues facing the national executive committee of the ANC”
THE ANC’s discussion document about the future of secretary-general Ace Magashule and others facing criminal charges has deepened factional battles within the party and polarised members of its national executive committee (NEC).
Sources told Independent Media that the debate on Magashule and others facing criminal charges in different courts intensified just before 5pm on Sunday, when party members expressed different opinions on the ANC Integrity Committee’s report that Magashule should step aside from his position.
“They are discussing the step-aside policy. It is hot. No final decision has been made, as members have divergent views on it. I doubt that a decision will be taken on the matter,” one of the sources said.
According to the sources, the debates were robust and have ruled out the possibility of the meeting reaching a conclusion on the matter for now.
Magashule’s supporters were believed to be on the offensive, but were equally met with opposition by those in favour of his removal.
Political analyst Professor Dirk Kotze has also expressed doubt that the ANC would reach a conclusion on the matter, saying: “The step-aside policy is one of the most divisive issues facing the national executive committee of the ANC.
“There are two clear positions – one which says it must be accepted and those opposing it. Their approach is that it would be unfair for Ace Magashule to step aside, as he is not found guilty in any court of law.
“There is no compromise by any of the groupings. The discussions are polarised.”
Professor Lesiba Teffo agreed with the view that the ANC still has a long way to go before finally putting the matter to bed.
“If you followed the debates, there were some who were arguing that the step-aside matter should be referred to the ANC branches for a decision,” Teffo said.
He, however, said the meeting might reach an agreement on the policy but disagree on its implementation.
“But if they don’t agree, it is still a decision. They may reach a cul-de-sac, and that is also a decision. But I doubt they will agree. Branches still have to agree on the matter. They might agree on the policy but differ on its implementation,” he said.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe was only able to say that the NEC meeting was still on, saying “we will issue a statement after the meeting”.
In December last year, the ANC Integrity Committee under veteran George Mashamba recommended that Magashule step down while facing criminal charges.
The Integrity Committee asked the ANC NEC to implement their decision, and if Magashule resisted, they should suspend him.
The Integrity Committee report gained momentum after Magashule made his first appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in November last year on charges of fraud and corruption.
The charges against Magashule are related to a R255 million asbestos contract while he was Premier of the Free State.
– Political Bureau