In what turned out to be a crazy night for newsrooms around South Africa, a very authentic-looking letter started doing the rounds appearing to be from suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule to the ANC informing them that he was rejecting his suspension and suspending party president Cyril Ramaphosa instead.
Of course, this appeared ludicrous. And if it was real, it probably would have meant inevitable – and fast – expulsion from the ANC for Magashule.
The ANC’s spokesperson, Pule Mabe, eventually told The Citizen that the letter was fake, but many were left doubting that, too.
Magashule had apparently also denied writing it – but then again he seems so used to denying all the things he’s done by now that it’s just a reflex action.
Then Mabe himself appeared to contradict himself, and his apparent comments to this website, when he went on TV to appear to confirm that the letter – or at least one of two letters doing the rounds – is in fact real.
ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule has written a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa. It comes after the party suspended him earlier today. To talk more on Thabo Mdluli is joined by ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe.
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) May 5, 2021
Pule Mabe just confirmed now on newzroom afrika 405 that the letter is NOT Fake.
"office of the DSG and the office of the president has received the letters from the office of the SG"
The letter is from Ace Magashule and it is NOT fake.
— Marxist (@Kgomo389) May 5, 2021
An official ANC statement also appeared to acknowledge the veracity of the letter and that they would respond to it over the weekend.
— African National Congress (@MYANC) May 5, 2021
Of course, it would have been quite bonkers for Magashule to have written that thing, and even more crazy to write it and then deny writing it, but I couldn’t help but remember that he’s done this kind of gaslighting to South Africa before, on Twitter, in 2019, when the ANC was arguing with itself about whether to privatise the SA Reserve Bank and/or change its mandate.
Back then, Magashule tried to convince the country that a “fake tweet” was “doing the rounds alleged to be from my account”. The only problem was that Magashule was in all probability simply flat-out lying, which his journalistic nemesis Pieter-Louis Myburgh was quick to point out.
READ THAT OLD STORY HERE: Zuma ‘reminds’ ANC what they ‘resolved’ about the Reserve Bank at Nasrec
A fake tweet! You mean this tweet that was deleted? pic.twitter.com/U1mIVmaKie
— Pieter Du Toit (@PieterDuToit) June 6, 2019
The “fake tweet” had indeed appeared on Magashule’s official account, presumably written by Magashule himself, before being deleted and disavowed. It had been all too real, and I suspect that Magashule knew that we all knew the truth, and it was all part of Magashule’s little game of moves and countermoves to wrest power in the ANC from Ramaphosa and his faction.
Similarly, when Magashule shared a picture of himself playing chess late on Wednesday night after supposedly denying to someone somewhere that he had had a hand in the “fake statement” attributed to him and the office he’s now been unceremoniously sent home from, all I could think was: hmmm, no. It didn’t take long for that doubt to be proven well placed.
— Ace Magashule (OFFICIAL) (@Magashule_Ace) May 5, 2021
But nothing would surprise me about the ANC any more, and especially not when it comes to Magashule. Because in the process of trying to chew off and amputate the parts of itself it no longer likes, it may just be eating itself alive.