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By Stephen Tau


Magashule-era ‘purge’ not enough to stop FS ANC division

Magashule may truly be out in the cold, and could join Carl Niehaus in his new political venture, but that's not enough to heal the ANC.

The elective provincial conference of the African National Congress (ANC) which was held over the weekend brought an end to the era of Ace Magashule, but it is doubtful whether this will be enough to bring unity to the province where he reigned since the advent of democracy.

Mxolisi Dukwana was elected as the new chairperson of the ANC in the province, a position which was occupied by former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule since 1994, until he took up his position as the party’s SG and his subsequent ousting.

Dukwana, who recently served as the interim provincial committee (IPC) convener, beat his challenger for the top post, Free State premier Sisi Ntombela, getting 346 votes compared to her 306.

Watch the announcement of the results below:

Dukwana, who also once served as MEC for Economic Development under the premiership of Magashule, was fired by the latter in 2012 for alleged attempts to unseat Magashule as provincial chairperson.

Dukwana, who is also seen as a Cyril Ramaphosa ally, has been a vocal critic of Magashule ever since.

Giving testimony at the State Capture commission in 2021, Dukwana implicated the likes of Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane in large-scale corruption in the province.

ALSO READ: Magashule, Zwane among 30 implicated in evidence as Dukwana returns to Zondo commission

Reacting to the weekend’s provincial elective conference outcome, political analyst Prof. Andre Duvenhage said Dukwana’s election is an indication that the Ramaphosa faction of the party now has a foothold in the Free State.

Duvenhage says he knows Dukwana well, as a former student of his during his time at the University of the Free State (UFS), and he believes he will toe the line when it comes to Ramaphosa’s plans for the party.

“I also think he (Dukwana) fits in to the paradigm of renewal when it comes to the ANC as an organisation.

“However, my perspective about the implications of renewal and what is said in formal ANC terms are different things, because I think what the ANC means with renewal is basically escaping the reality of corruption and the Zondo Commission report on one side, trying to side-step issues, and mobilizing support in order to win the 2024 general election,” said Duvenhage.

Looming Cabinet reshuffle

Another political analyst Dr. Ntsikelelo Breakfast agrees that the weekend’s outcomes are a consolidation of the Ramaphosa faction in the ANC.

“I also think it was a clean sweep because all the people who are on Ramaphosa’s slate won. But I suspect that the outcome might be contested given the fact that there was a conflict that broke out on Friday around the issue of credentials, and because the conflict resolution committee of the ANC is constituted by ANC members, some people might have issues with that committee and rather go the legal route,” said Breakfast.

What do the outcomes mean for the ANC’s renewal?

“For some people renewal means purging, because renewal also means you must get rid of the corrupt elements and renew the ANC, but some people tend to argue that people who tend to be affected by the step aside principle because that’s one mechanism of renewing the ANC, and those who are affected are part of the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction,” Breakfast said.

“Not everyone buys in to this renewal project and therefore I don’t think that the tensions in the Free State are going to go away, but what might happen is that those who have lost might not campaign for the ANC for the upcoming general elections, just so the ANC can be punished.”

What does the future hold for Magashule in the ANC?

Breakfast is of the opinion Magashule is now left in the cold following the weekend’s provincial elective conference, as he is also no longer part of the top leadership of the ANC.

“Magashule was an embodiment of RET and now Ramaphosa has consolidated his block in that Top 7, because there is a synergy now, and a symbiotic relationship between Ramaphosa and secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, leaving Magashule in the wilderness.

“It could have been better if that faction of his (Magashule’s) had one at the weekend, I think he could have found some comfort in that and maybe re-emerged through that, but I have also seen Carl Niehaus next to him while addressing the media on Friday and there are talks to introduce a new political movement of RET. I don’t think Niehaus made that decision without Magashule’s knowledge,” said Breakfast.