Avatar photo

By Eric Naki

Political Editor


2024 election: Ace’s ACT a big rival to the ANC

Ramaphosa visits Free State to challenge Magashule’s newly formed ACT party, signaling a heated battle ahead of the2024 elections


The battle for control of the Free State between Cyril Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule begins this weekend with the president’s visit to the province to demonstrate he is the only strongman in the country. Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the ANC’s 2019 manifesto review in Thaba Nchu, 70km east of Bloemfontein, on Saturday – a move meant to rally support for the 2024 elections and for the ANC to “renew our commitment to the people”. Ramaphosa is demonstrating to arch-rival Magashule that the Free State is not only the ANC’s birthplace, but that the province belongs to the ruling party.…

Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism

Access PREMIUM news, competitions
and exclusive benefits

SUBSCRIBE
Already a member? SIGN IN HERE

The battle for control of the Free State between Cyril Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule begins this weekend with the president’s visit to the province to demonstrate he is the only strongman in the country.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the ANC’s 2019 manifesto review in Thaba Nchu, 70km east of Bloemfontein, on Saturday – a move meant to rally support for the 2024 elections and for the ANC to “renew our commitment to the people”.

Ramaphosa is demonstrating to arch-rival Magashule that the Free State is not only the ANC’s birthplace, but that the province belongs to the ruling party.

The Free State is set to become the battleground between the ANC and Magashule’s African Congress for Transformation (ACT), which the ruling party’s former secretary-general formed to challenge the ANC in the general elections next year.

He had ambitions to stand against Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency before he was fired from the party.

Magashule, as then ANC Free State provincial chair and premier, governed the province with an iron fist and did not tolerate any opposition.

He prevented opponents from participating in party structures, ensuring his allies monopolised the top jobs in municipalities.

There are clear indications that Magashule has sizeable support in the province. Experts and the opposition put Magashule’s backing in the province at about 50%.

Political analyst Prof André Duvenhage from North-West University said Magashule was likely to give the ANC a run for its money in 2024.

This placed his ACT party in direct competition to the ANC, which appears to be feeling the pressure. ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has been frequenting Fezile Dabi, Magashule’s home region, in an apparent attempt to lessen his influence in the area.

Ramaphosa has been able to entrench himself as ANC leader and in the state since his re-election at Nasrec last year.

The ANC has tried to out-manoeuvre Magashule in the Free State, where Ramaphosa last year launched the District Development Model (DDM) in Mangaung.

The DDM is an all-government approach to improving integrated planning and delivery across the three spheres of government, with district and metropolitan as the focal point.

Many of Magashule’s supporters were sidelined by the current leadership led by Ramaphosa’s right-hand man and Magashule’s arch-foe Mxolisi Dukwana, the new provincial chair and premier.

Magashule’s supporters in the Mangaung region have been purged from the party and council, including former mayor Mxolisi Siyonzana, former provincial secretary Paseka Nompondo and former premier Sisi Ntombela, among others.

Siyonzana was replaced as mayor by former uMkhonto we Sizwe cadre and ‘Ramaphosa camp’ member, Gregory Nthatisi.

Magashule was the last on a list of members to be chopped. He was expelled for misconduct related to trying to unconstitutionally suspend Ramaphosa.

His dismissal followed a long period under “step-aside”, an ANC term for a suspension connected to a series of criminal charges he faced, including fraud, corruption and money laundering.

He did not challenge his expulsion, opting instead to establish ACT.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits