The Mail & Guardian has again reported on Friday about long-running reports and speculation about how tough life can sometimes appear to be these days for the ANC’s secretary-general (SG), Ace Magashule.
Magashule was not on Cyril Ramaphosa’s slate for election to the top 6 in December, instead campaigning for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. He narrowly beat Ramaphosa’s choice for the job, Senzo Mchunu, who was unexpectedly also sent to Luthuli House in the heretofore largely unknown position of “chairperson of organising and campaigning”, which Magashule’s supporters interpreted as a move to have him oversee Magashule at ANC headquarters.
Magashule’s supporters also reportedly feel their man continues to be undermined, and his opponents in the ANC are allegedly using state resources to “conduct a clandestine investigation against him”.
They told the paper they were “aware” of a plan to have Magashule charged with corruption soon after next year’s elections.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – better known as the Hawks – in January conducted a search and seizure raid at the Bloemfontein office of the then Free State premier, Magashule.
The Hawks also raided the offices of the province’s agriculture department in action linked to their probe into the Gupta-linked Estina Dairy Project, which was allegedly used to siphon millions of rands from the provincial government by the Guptas under the guise of empowering locals as dairy farmers.
The National Prosecuting Authority is expected to prosecute in relation to the matter. The DA described the project as a “devious scheme thought up by those who represent the ANC – Ace Magashule, Mosebenzi Zwane, and their fellow comrades – to steal public money to pay for a Gupta wedding in Sun City,” according to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
The public protector confirmed this week that her office’s probe of the dairy project would include the role played by politicians.
He is likely to be called to account for his role in any alleged state capture once the State Capture Commission of Inquiry kicks off in August.
However, Magashule’s supporters have said he is currently being undermined as secretary-general in the party in ways that break from the norm in the ANC:
- Some ministers fail to consult with him when making key appointments to parastatals.
- He apparently does not have nearly the same kind of say as his predecessors – such as Gwede Mantashe – had when deciding on parliamentary deployments, such as those who go to portfolio committees.
- A proposal was allegedly even made to remove Magashule as the chair of the ANC’s national list committee (which determines who becomes an MP – and perhaps thereafter a member of Cabinet – or member of a provincial legislature), but that reportedly had to be rejected as it is central to what an SG in the ANC is meant to do.
- Magashule has allegedly not been allowed to play the role of deploying leaders to speak at party rallies, particularly at provincial level.
- ANC committees no longer report regularly to Magashule, especially in relation to the deployment committee headed by deputy president David Mabuza.
Magashule’s supporters reportedly believe these actions are evidence that Ramaphosa and his supporters are looking to stack the deck in favour of ensuring that after next year’s elections power will be more clearly concentrated in their hands.
However, they may find it difficult to override Magashule’s influence, as the powers of the SG in the ANC cannot easily be sidestepped. The role is known as the engine room of the ANC for a reason.
The paper could not reach the ANC for comment.