Alex Japho Matlala
The jockeying within the ANC ahead of this week’s policy conference has taken a new turn, with Limpopo – assumed to be staunchly behind President Cyril Ramaphosa – suddenly siding with his opponents in the KZN ANC by demanding that the contentious “step-aside” policy be scrapped.
And Mpumalanga’s provincial structures, also thought to be behind Ramaphosa, have jumped into the debate, saying the step aside rule needs to be “reviewed”.
The policy is set to be the main focus of debate at this week’s ANC policy conference, starting tomorrow.
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Limpopo and Mpumalanga appeared to make their decisions in the wake of the KZN elections over the weekend, which saw supporters of former president Jacob Zuma triumph in the race for official positions.
The radical economic transformation faction, which is loyal to Zuma, has a number of people in it who are subject to the step-aside policy.
They are prevented from standing for office because they have been charged with criminal conduct.
Among them is suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
If the step-aside rule is set aside, it could pave the way for Zuma supporters to stand for office at the party’s end-of-year elective conference.
This may pose a serious threat to Ramaphosa being elected to lead the ANC for a second term.
Political analyst Metji Makgoba said the problem was the way the rule has been implemented.
He said the step-aside rule is viewed as a way to deal with the pro-Zuma/Magashule camp.
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“The Ramaphosa faction has always been seen as clean until now. The difference is there has never been any charges laid against him by the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA].
“But in the case of Magashule and former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, there have been charges laid against them. So it would be wrong to ask Ramaphosa to step aside on the Phala Phala farm matter since there have not been charges laid against him.”
Limpopo provincial executive committee spokesperson Jimmy Machaka said: “We will foward a proposal to the policy conference for consideration.”
But some ANC structures in Limpopo disagreed with this stance.
Phusela branch chair Masilo Maloko said: “There is no way this will get the thumbs-up from other provinces.”
The Northern Cape ANC provincial general council said it would fight to keep the step-aside rule.
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