Eric Naki
Political Editor
6 minute read
29 May 2021
11:52 am

Ace Magashule a ‘peculiar problem’ – ANC Northern Cape

Eric Naki

Dr Zamani Saul says out of all the 15 former ANC secretary generals, none have been 'deeply comprised' as Magaushule.

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was at the court to offer his support to former president Jacob Zuma on 17 May 2021. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency/Pool

Northern Cape ANC chairperson and provincial premier, Dr Zamani Saul has called for a political education among ANC structures on the importance and role of the party’s secretary-general so as to avoid future conflicts in the party.

He also raised the issue of unity saying Northern Cape was the most united province under the ANC because its leadership consciously fought divisions in the party and dealt with certain dangers and imperatives that caused factionalism and conflict.

“As an organisation we do very little to celebrate the historical contribution of secretaries-general in the life of the organisation. It’s only when we experience problems in that office that we come to appreciate the importance of the Office of the Secretary-General,” Saul said this in his political report at the 9th Northern Cape ANC provincial conference currently underway at Springbok in the Namakwa region.

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Saul told the conference delegates that from July 2021 till November 2022 the ANC must on monthly basis convene political lectures on the lives and legacies of each of the 16 Secretary Generals of the organisation. This should be done alongside the current programme to celebrate the life of late Charlotte Maxeke and other stalwarts.

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In a clear reference to Ace Magashule’s defiance of the ANC, he said out of all the 15 ANC former Secretary Generals it was for the first time that the ANC was confronted with such a peculiar problem where the Secretary-General was deeply compromised. “So comrades, there are no historical lessons, on how best to deal with the current problem, because we do not have a history of a Secretary-General with a distorted logic about his role, thinking that he is above the organisation and its Constitution, above conference resolutions and above the NEC,” he said.

“When the SG becomes conflicted and deeply entangled to an extent that he is central to the problems that confront the organisation, then we are sitting with a grave challenge. That is basically where we are today,” Dr Saul said.

He said Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe as then secretaries-general worked very hard and closely with then servicing presidents to build a strong and united ANC with a capacity to confront the apartheid onslaught. “They worked very closely with the then presidents because they fully appreciated the fact that the president who is the head of the organisation and the secretary-general who is the head of administration constitutes the centre of gravity in the work of the organisation,” Dr Saul said.

When the President and secretary general fight that results in the worst form of disunity and divisions. The ANC has an unmatched history of secretaries-general who appreciated the centrality of their role to keep the organisation together. When the NEC and the broader movement was confronted with challenges the “secretary-general is “expected to do the heavy lifting to bring the organisation together”.

The chair said Northern Cape ANC had become an epitome of unity within the party because its leadership had taken steps to fight divisions and unite members. He conceded that the May 2017 provincial conference held in Colesburg was muddied by divisions, violence, and utter ill-discipline, but his provincial executive committee (PEC) had worked hard to address the problem. That’s way Northern Cape had “the most united provincial delegation” at Nasrec and the current conference went smoothly with minimum glitches.

The PEC coined the phrase of “Three Dangers and Four imperatives” in dealing with the divisions. The three dangers were divisions, hammering ANC image, and dealing with the vast socio-economic inequality.

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They also identified and sought to address the four imperatives of building unity, strengthening the political interface between the party and the provincial government, fighting corruption, and managing cadre development.

They visited all regions to meet with regional and branch executive committees to communicate the PEC’s vision of building unity in the province. “Our efforts are starting to yield positive results. The PEC remains committed to liquidating divisions within the ranks of the ANC in the Northern Cape,” Dr Saul said.

Northern Cape avoided divisive cabinet reshuffles instead the PEC dealt with them in a “matured and measured” manner which was highly commended and applauded by all including the ANC national officials. In line with the Colesburg conference resolution to salvage the battered ANC image, the provincial leadership did everything in their power to achieve that. “We can report, without any fear of contradictions, that this PEC did nothing in the past four years that injured the integrity of the ANC,” he said.

Major strides had been made. The indications of unity were the mature manner they managed the 2019 list process; unprecedented performance in local government by-elections where they won 95% of all by-elections.

The provincial officials elected unopposed are:

  • Chairperson: Dr.Zamani Saul
  • Deputy Chairperson: Comrade Bentley Vass
  • Secretary: Comrade Daluxolo Ngxanga
  • Deputy Secretary: Comrade Maruping Lekwene
  • -Treasurer: Comrade Fufe Makatong.

Saul said the ANC is confident that the rest of the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) that will emerge from this conference will be equal to the task of leading the province towards unity, renewal, and transformation.

The success of the unity project helped to raise the Northern Cape’s political prestige nationally. They were able to implement mature management of the cadre deployment and saw growth in party membership and branches in good standing and among others. As a way forward the PEC identified the need to build a substantial layer of cadres within the ANC working closely with the OR Tambo Political School members were encouraged to register for the relevant courses.

Saul said the third imperative identified was fighting corruption in all its manifestations. The provincial government’s fight against corruption and system wastage assisted to improve public financial management in the province that had weak fiscal discipline.

Financial ill-discipline resulted in the accumulated unauthorised expenditure amounting to R902 million and a negative bank overdraft amounting to R220 million. “We were resolute as the sixth administration to improve the fiscal position of the province.

“Despite the dwindling resources in the past years, we managed to maintain a balance fiscal framework and a reduction in the Provincial Unauthorised Expenditure (provincial edebt) from R965 million to R420 million in the 2020/21 Financial year,” Dr Saul said.

The consolidated balance of the province improved due to measures that we introduced for stringent cash management, fighting corruption, and wastage. In 2021, for the first time in 20 years, the province closed with a positive consolidated bank balance. “Governance and accountability are key in our fight against corruption,” he said.

Northern Cape ANC leadership elected provincial officials unopposed as a sign of unity in the province.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the conference virtually on Saturday at 3pm.

The conference would end on Sunday.

ericn@citizen.co.za