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By Stephen Tau

Journalist


Magashule might still have an Ace up his sleeve for ANC conference

The only thing that is certain is that Ace Magashule isn't planning to go down without a fight. Whether he has enough backing, is, however, up for debate.


A lot of questions remain around the political future of the suspended African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule, following the latest postponement of his asbestos corruption case to January 2023.

Magashule addressed his supporters outside the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday last week, and expressed outrage over the continuous postponements of the case, claiming it is being used to bar him from contesting for leadership positions at the ANC’s much awaited national elective conference in December.

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Magashule, who faces multiple charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering along with 16 other accused, in relation to the R255 million asbestos removal tender issued by the Free State government in 2015 when he was premier, also said he would accept nomination for any leadership position in the ANC.

ALSO READ: Magashule: ‘Once I’m nominated, nobody can stop me’

Ace won’t stop fighting

According to political analyst Prof. Andre Duvenhage, this just confirms that Magashule will fight to the bitter end.

“What is interesting is that he and Jacob Zuma and others were masters of the Stalingrad strategy with postponing court cases and becoming sick, but this time around it has backfired against them because the postponement of Magashule’s case until 20 January basically disqualified him from standing in the ANC, and that is what the Ramaphosa faction would like to see.

“However, I must stress that the this is not the end for Magashule. We are going to see grassroots mobilisation and I think the political environment is going to become a lot more unstable up to the ANC’s elective conference in December,” said Duvenhage.

The nomination rules for the elective conference stipulate that any member may stand for the NEC if they have been an active member for at least ten years, unless they are prohibited from standing by one of the rules, which includes having been found guilty or charged with unethical or immoral conduct, or any serious crime or corruption.

Officially announcing the nomination processes and rules, ANC stalwart Kgalema Motlanthe said the party was looking for a “quality” NEC.

ALSO READ: Kgalema Motlanthe reminds ANC members that leaders must be ethical, moral

Duvenhage says the radical economic transformation (RET) grouping of the ANC, with Magashule appearing to be the main leader, have not played their final cards and are still part of the political game.

“Magashule made it very clear that no one is going to stop him from standing.

“For instance, if the branches, and not only from the Free State but also in KwaZulu-Natal, decide to support him and nominate him, and if he shows that he is being nominated by a number of branches, then he will make a political case and also we don’t know where Cyril Ramaphosa is going to take us because we still have his unresolved Phala Phala farm scandal,” Duvenhage said.

Magashule’s defiance may be in vain

Another political analyst, Dr. Ntsikelelo Breakfast, however, holds a different view, saying the damage has already been done to Magashule’s campaign.

“Even his defiance won’t achieve its intended objective, and yes, Ramaphosa’s block so far has been consolidated,” said Duvenhage.

He said, pressure is, however, mounting for the re-examination of the step aside rule which is currently keeping Magashule on the sidelines.

“The grouping that wanted this rule to be debated at the ANC’s Policy Conference were defeated, but having said that, this rule is also viewed by some in the ANC as being problematic in the sense that it is being applied in a factional fashion and even acting secretary general Paul Mashatile once questioned what is meant by serious allegations.

“In theory this rule was meant to redeem the image of the ANC,” Breakfast said.

Branches will decide

Meanwhile, Carl Niehaus, one of Magashule’s closest allies, said it was definitely not the end of the road for the former Free State premier and it is branches that will decide his fate.

“There have already been a number of branches who have nominated him (Magashule) for various leadership positions in the ANC, and branches have the right to nominate whoever they want.

“This whole step aside rule, of which many ANC members are opposed to, will also be upfront at the national elective conference,” he said.

Niehaus could not immediately give more information regarding marches planned leading up to the elective conference, simply confirming that public demonstrations were on the cards.

Magashule on Friday also mentioned there will be marches which he himself will be leading, without giving away too much information.