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By Sydney Majoko

Writer


Nasrec 2017 conference haunting ANC amid ‘step aside’ debate

The overall political fortunes of the ruling party at the polls depend heavily on whether Magashule stays or goes. 


At the height of the student protests that were marred by the death of 35-year-old Mthokozisi Ntumba, the secretary-general of the ANC, Ace Magashule, joined students in a march to the Constitutional Court.

The move was clearly one steeped in desperation over his future.

He knew he needed all the support he could get ahead of the ANC’s national executive council discussion on the proposals of its integrity commission that any leader facing criminal charges must step aside.

The move was bizarre because, essentially, the students were marching against the ANC’s failure to implement its 2017 decision to make basic higher education free.

In essence, Magashule was actually marching against his own organisation.

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The incumbent of the most powerful office in the day-to-day running of the ruling party has been in desperate mode for a while and because of that, he has made pronouncements and taken actions that have come across as self-serving and quite embarrassing for that office.

But this has always been coming.

Magashule did not suddenly become a liability after being elected to his position at Nasrec in 2017, the ruling party allowed its structures to elect a flawed man into its most powerful office (besides that of president).

The 74 corruption charges he is facing in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein stem from a case from 2014.

The whole country knew who the ANC was electing into office; they knew he had a corruption cloud hanging over his head but still allowed him into office, a move that was quite strategic for him in trying to escape charges that he knew were coming sooner or later.

This weekend’s NEC meeting has seen the likes of Joel Netshitende and former president Thabo Mbeki come out and say what the whole organisation should have been brave to say before Nasrec 2017: that Magashule’s elevation to the office of secretary-general would result in the weakening of that office.

The current debate on the “step aside” rule is something the ruling party should have had in place many years before it was required to use it against Magashule.

Corruption has been an albatross for the ruling party for well over two decades but in typical ANC denial, it left it till the last minute to implement something that could have reined in corrupt leaders.

It is telling that the biggest argument of those opposed to the “step aside” rule is that everyone who has been implicated in corruption, including the president, would then have to vacate their positions within the ruling party.

Their argument is not against what the rule aims to achieve for the ruling party.

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In simple terms, this can be likened to a speeding driver who gets caught and pleads not to be prosecuted because everyone else is speeding.

The current divisions within the ruling party over the “step aside” rule and Magashule’s weakening of the secretary-general’s office are the Nasrec 2017 chickens coming home to roost.

Back in 2017 at the Nasrec elective conference, the Cyril Ramaphosa faction ran on a ticket based on unity.

That unity meant David Mabuza and Magashule could become deputy president and secretary-general respectively.

The introspection that was put aside then in favour of political expediency can no longer be put aside.

The overall political fortunes of the ruling party at the polls depend heavily on whether Magashule stays or goes.

Sydney Majoko.

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