ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has come under fire for backing party MPs who did not participate in the parliamentary vote last week to establish a special committee to investigate Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
Last week, Magashule told Durban-based radio station Gagasi FM that the ANC MPs who did not support the motion tabled by the DA did the right thing by refusing to “sleep with the enemy”.
This was despite an instruction from the ANC’s top six leaders for the party’s parliamentarians to vote in favour of the inquiry.
Writing in his personal capacity for the Daily Maverick on Tuesday, ANC veteran and national executive committee member Joel Netshitenzhee said Magashule’s remarks left many party members wondering if they still had an organisation.
He said Magashule created “confusion” for his reference to the DA as “the enemy of the National Democratic Revolution”, pointing out that Magashule as a “cadre deserving of such a senior position” should be aware of the debates within the ANC about the characterisation of the opposition in a democratic society.
“The conceptual confusion aside, what irked many ANC members is that the secretary-general sought to distance himself from the guidance that the officials (so-called top six) recently gave to the ANC caucus in Parliament,” Netshitenzhe said.
“The national chairperson [Gwede Mantashe] of the ANC communicated the top six’s decision to the parliamentary caucus. Yet, according to the secretary-general, this could be defied, as ‘officials of the ANC are not a structure in terms of our constitution’.
“‘What repercussions,’ he retorted when asked whether there would be consequences for those who wilfully went against the leadership’s guidance, ‘when they have done the right thing?’ The ANC caucus has since clarified that the MPs who were absent had valid explanations – further deepening the confusion sown by the secretary-general.”
Netshitenzhe said there were moments when any leader can miss a point or mis-speak, but what was concerning is this had become the hallmark of the Magashule’s public pronouncements on difficult matters facing the movement.
He cited the ANC’s stepping aside rule that Magashule has previously criticised saying only ANC members branches can remove leaders facing criminal cases or are implicated in wrongdoing.
“And so, a trend is emerging where the secretary-general of the ANC is starting to stick out like a sore thumb among his peers and across the movement,” Netshitenzhe said.
He said this seemed to form part of a wider campaign to undermine the structures of the ANC.
“The so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction has announced that it is holding meetings; and one of its leaders [Carl Niehaus], incidentally, working in the secretary-general’s office, has released a ‘basic document’ that calls for ‘a return of the ANC to its socialist ideological orientation’, whatever this means, under current global and domestic conditions.”
Last week, MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus – a known ally of Magashule’s – published an eight-page document unpacking a vision of radical economic transformation (RET). The document is widely speculated to form part of Magashule’s plans to campaign for the ANC presidency in 2022.