Concerned ANC members from party’s Free State regions and branches have distanced themselves from the Fezile Dabi region, which opposed the ruling party’s national executive committee (NEC) decision to ask secretary-general Ace Magashule to step aside.
The Fezile Dabi region in the northern Free State, bordering Gauteng, is where Magashule’s hometown, Parys, is situated.
The area’s ANC members, who claimed to represent the Fezile Dabi regional executive committee (REC), at the weekend lashed out at the NEC’s action against Magashule, saying he was not going anywhere despite a looming deadline for him to step aside this Friday.
According to them, Magashule was made a scapegoat as part of factional battles because the 2017 Nasrec conference “step aside” resolution talked about allegations, not only charges faced by members. The REC claimed to have obtained a mandate from branches to challenge the NEC decision.
But it has been argued that mere allegations were different to concrete charges as was the case with Magashule and ANC MPs Bongani Bongo and Vincent Smith. The three politicians were charged by the Hawks for corruption and appeared in different courts but ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, national chairperson Gwede Mantashe and other NEC members were yet to be charged.
But ANC members based in the Mangaung region said the so-called REC was not a fully fledged ANC structure but an interim regional task team (RTT) because all regional structures in the Free State were disbanded and replaced with RTTs. They claimed the Fezile Dabi regional structure did not speak for all the regions but were a small group of individuals who supported Magashule.
Speaking on behalf of concerned ANC members, Monnapule Ntamo said the Fezile Dabi leadership were individuals who belonged to Magashule.
“They do not have the support of branches, but they issued that statement as Magashule’s loyalists. Ace is behind them. Why [did] their statement coincide [with] similar statements by Supra Mahumapelo from North West and Mzwandile Masina in trying to rubbish the ‘step aside’ issue,” Ntamo said.
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Ntamo said Ramaphosa met ANC branches recently and they all expressed their support for the “step aside” policy to be implemented.
“All Mangaung branches and our regional RTTs support the step aside, there is nothing of that nature to say as Free State branches or region we oppose the implementation of this decision. This was a national conference resolution that must be implemented,” Ntamo said.
Meanwhile at the weekend, ANC MP and former North West premier Mahumapelo, a staunch Jacob Zuma supporter, lambasted the “step aside” decision saying it was against the country’s Constitution. He said if a member was asked to step aside but refused to do so, forcing him to resign or step aside was “against the Constitution of the country”.
Mahumapelo said the decision was merely aimed at getting rid of Magashule from the ANC.
Ekurhuleni mayor and ANC regional chair, Mzwandile Masina, last week said the “step aside” resolution should not be used to single out individuals. He said Gauteng province had not yet taken a resolution on the issue but was still deliberating it, but he was personally opposed to the “step aside” matter.
In a radio interview, Masina said while he backed the call for those accused of corruption to step aside in the ANC, the policy should not be selective.
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“As a person, I do support the resolution on the step aside. All I’m advocating is we must never have resolutions about individuals. We must have a resolution about the entire organisation.”
The Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Northern Cape were the only provinces that had explicitly voiced support for the “step aside” decision while Mpumalanga’s provincial secretary, Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, individually opposed Magashule’s suspension at a recent NEC meeting, saying rather all the top six must step aside.
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Free State and North West were yet to pronounce on the issue but their provincial chairpersons and secretaries, as ex-officio NEC members, were part of the move to enforce the decision.