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Magashule still has a few Aces up his sleeve

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Mahumapelo lodged a veiled attack against the ANC top leadership for its decision to suspend Magashule, saying the move was in conflict with the Constitution.

Suspended Secretary-General Ace Magashule. Picture Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA) Archives

THE ANC under President Cyril Ramaphosa faces a major backlash for its decision to suspend Secretary-General Ace Magashule, from the biggest party region in KwaZulu-Natal and supporters of North West suspended ANC MP and former premier, Supra Mahumapelo.

On Sunday, Mahumapelo lodged a veiled attack against the ANC top leadership for its decision to suspend Magashule, saying the move was in conflict with the Constitution, which says you are innocent until proven guilty.

Magashule was served with a suspension letter on Monday last week, following charges of fraud and corruption having been laid against him in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in November last year.

In March this year, the ANC NEC urged all those senior members charged with criminal offences or corruption to step aside or face suspension. The party gave all implicated individuals 30 days to step aside, but Magashule and ANC MP and former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo failed to comply with the order.

The two were served with suspension letters on Monday last week. Two days later, Magashule also served ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa with a letter of suspension, saying he had also been named in acts of wrongdoing, but the ANC NEC rejected Magashule’s letter.

Magashule and Bongo were also barred from participating in the NEC meeting over the weekend, in a clear show of support for Ramaphosa’s leadership.

Leaked audio from the virtual NEC meeting revealed that former president Thabo Mbeki also urged members to seriously consider the submissions made by Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabathe and ANC Women’s League leader Bathabile Dlamini and secretary-general Meokgo Motuba about the state of the ANC. Mathabathe raised the issue of hatred among ANC members within the party.

“Comrades in the ANC hate each other more than they hate the enemy or the opposition,” Mathabathe said. He asked the party to consider holding a retreat for two or three days to deal with the differences with the party.

Mbeki said the ANC must discuss whether there was still an organisation called the ANC. Mbeki urged his fellow NEC members to take to heart the comment made by Mathabathe and the Women’s League duo. Dlamini and Motuba were adamant that the ANC “was about to collapse”.

Despite Magashule’s absence at the meeting, his supporters lodged a fightback inside the virtual NEC meeting by calling for a discussion on Ramaphosa’s purported “suspension”.

Leading the charge was the ANC’s Dakota Legoete – a close ally of Magashule – who urged Ramaphosa, in another meeting clip leaked to the media, to be the leader of the ANC and not “president of a faction”.

Legoete said that many people in the ANC were facing corruption.

“I think the matter of the suspension letters must be made clear when we leave this meeting. The other point that I think we have reached is that this NEC will become a liability to the nation and the structures. Narrow factions are not helping the movement,” said Legoete.

“I want to propose to provinces, regions and branches that we must either consider Rule 29 of the constitution of having a special conference. That’s because we have reached a point where we are not dealing with proper service delivery despite the pandemic, jobs, investments and infrastructure roll-out. We are stuck. If some of us are not prepared to repent and help the movement, move forward, then we must go for a special conference and apply Rule 29. We can’t continue like this,” he said.

Mahumapelo and 68 branches of ANC in eThekwini region on Sunday sang from the same hymn sheet. They shared Magashule’s sentiments that every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices should account to the Integrity Committee immediately or face disciplinary committee processes.

In his address to the North West Pastors’ Forum, Mahumapelo was very critical of his party’s decision to suspend Magashule, asking what it would do if Magashule was acquitted in a court of law.

“Some of the ANC’s resolutions taken at the national conference are in conflict with the laws of the republic. Let us not judge them while facing charges in court. What will happen if they are acquitted on all charges against them?” Mahumapelo asked.

He was accompanied by various ANC leaders in North West and members of the ANC Youth League in Ngaka Modiri region.

In KwaZulu-Natal, 68 branches lodged a twin campaign in favour of Magashule and Zuma.

In their statement, read by Ntando Khuzwayo, the chairperson of the Gedleyihlekisa sub-region, they called for the disbandment of the ANC’s NEC.

Khuzwayo said that most ANC members in their region were calling for the reinstatement of Magashule, or otherwise for the ANC NEC to be disbanded.

They also vowed to resist any attempts to arrest Zuma, even if the Constitutional Court made such a judgment following his refusal to appear before the Zondo Commission.

Political Bureau