Embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said he remains in his post, that he is not going anywhere and party president Cyril Ramaphosa has in fact been suspended.
This is despite the ANC’s decision to suspend him, along with other party members charged with corruption and other serious crimes, who refused to step aside while their cases are still before the courts.
Magashule was informed this week of his temporary suspension by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte after the grace period for him to voluntarily step down expired last week.
In a dramatic turn of events on Wednesday evening, a letter from Magashule’s office surfaced in which he ordered Ramaphosa to step down over allegations of vote buying during his CR17 ANC presidential campaign.
‘I’m still the SG’
Speaking out on Thursday morning, a defiant Magashule said he remained in his post until his appeal challenging his suspension had been heard.
“Nothing is going on with me, I’m still the secretary-general,” he told EWN in an interview.
Magashule, who faces fraud and corruption charges in the Free State, confirmed his letter to Ramaphosa was legitimate and said it was Ramaphosa, in fact, who had been suspended.
This has been disputed by several senior leaders of the ANC who said he did not have the authority to suspend the ANC president.
Magashule also claimed his opponents were using state organs against him and his allies in the ANC.
“This is not the last case; we know what they are cooking. We know what they are cooking against Supra, we know what they are cooking against Lindiwe Sisulu, we know what they are cooking against some of the ministers,” he said.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said issues involving the party’s step aside resolution would be discussed at its special national executive committee (NEC) meeting this weekend.
‘An act of desperation’
Magashule’s letter informing Ramaphosa of his suspension is a final act of desperation, according to a political analyst.
Analyst and author Dr Dale McKinley said Magashule’s decision to “suspend” Ramaphosa, as well as a call for ANC members affected by the step aside resolution to defy the party, was an indication he had been backed into a corner.
“I doubt it’s going to work at all because it’s essentially one person against the entire organisation, the constitutional structures and the national working committee. So, to me it’s a sign that he has come to the end of the road in terms of his options and it’s desperation, because he has to know that this is not going to work,” McKinley told The Citizen on Thursday.
“I think the intention was to try to create as much chaos as possible in the ANC by issuing instructions to others to ignore their suspension letters. This is also indicative of how things have shifted in the last several months with regards to these factional battles.”
‘A state of paralysis’
McKinley said the ANC had been in a state of paralysis for a while about the implementation of the step aside resolution taken at the party’s 2017 national elective conference.
McKinley said now that the resolution had been finally implemented, he believes the ANC’s radical economic transformation (RET) faction – which has been associated with Magashule and his allies – has overplayed its hand and has no other options.
He said the question most South Africans would have on their minds, is whether Magashule and his factions will spilt from the ANC.
“It’s a party divided but I think that in some ways the hand of the RET faction has been overplayed… it’s in crisis but it will probably move through this, it will be a bumpy road [and] they will get over this. I think what the question is for everybody is, what is Magashule and his faction’s next act going to be?”