Business Day has reported that embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been left isolated among his fellow top six officials in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and will have little choice but to step aside or be suspended pending the outcome of the criminal charges against him for tender-related corruption.
The ANC’s national working committee was still locked in behind-the-scenes discussions on Monday night about the party’s step-aside ruling. News24 has reported that Magashule told the NEC that he will not step aside on the basis that he was elected at the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec conference.
Business Day has, however, reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa has the “unequivocal” support of Magashule’s deputy, Jessie Duarte, as well as ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, treasurer Paul Mashatile and deputy president David Mabuza in the bid to implement the ANC’s step-aside resolutions adopted at its elective conference, with Magashule the most high-profile office bearer to be affected.
The top six leaders are also understood to have the majority support of the rest of the NEC for Magashule to step aside immediately. Magashule and his supporters have previously expressed the view that he is being unfairly targeted and singled out.
The views of the ANC alliance partner the SA Communist Party have now also further isolated Magashule. It wants the step-aside resolution implemented urgently and has called on ANC officials not to allegedly disrupt the criminal justice system by holding on to their positions.
ANC Veterans League leader Snuki Zikalala further told News24 that he personally expects Magashule to eventually concede and step aside.
Sunday Times Daily reports that since Magashule is more than likely still going to put up a fight, that would lead to the ANC being forced to suspend him. Some analysts have pointed out that Magashule may have his eye on eventually becoming ANC president by mounting a challenge against Ramaphosa at the ANC’s next elective conference in 2022, suggesting the stakes could not be higher.
Mashatile is understood to be “working against the clock” to have clear appeal procedures in place in terms of the step-aside resolutions by the time the NEC meets again this weekend to consider the case of Magashule and the many other ANC officials who have been criminally charged. They face prosecution in various provinces.
Mashatile will reportedly be seeking legal advice on whether Magashule and other affected ANC members, such as MP Bongani Bongo and eThekwini leader Zandile Gumede, will have to remain on suspension once they have lodged any appeals; the NEC will still need to agree on this point too.
It is understood that criminally charged ANC members will still be given opportunities to “state their case” in the days ahead on why they may wish to defy the step-aside resolution.
Former ANC president Thabo Mbeki and former party deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe over the weekend reportedly tried to convince Magashule to accept the step-aside ruling.
– Compiled by Charles Cilliers