The bell finally tolled for Magashule, who resisted the party’s high-level order to step aside until he was pushed. His idea to employ delaying tactics backfired as he was given his final warning.
The ANC is finally walking the talk in cleansing itself of corrupt members – putting itself on the path to regain a semblance of voter confidence and to dispel accusations that it is lax on graft within its ranks after giving secretary-general Ace Magashule a final ultimatum: step aside or be suspended.
It was not certain last night whether Magashule would continue to defy the organisation by pushing for the matter to be debated yet again at another national executive committee (NEC) meeting, or by taking the decision to the courts for review – or whether he will go quietly.
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The bell finally tolled for Magashule, who resisted the party’s high-level order to step aside until he was pushed. His idea to employ delaying tactics backfired as he was given his final warning by the organisation’s national working committee (NWC).
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Magashule, who was said to be planning a fightback, including challenging President Cyril Ramaphosa in the 2022 ANC party polls.
He was lined up as the face of the Zuma camp to mobilise against Ramaphosa in the upcoming national general council and the October local government elections.
Letters carrying the bad news will be delivered to Magashule’s mailbox soon. Similar letters will be sent to all others facing criminal charges to notify them of the party decision to suspend them if they do not step aside.
Political analyst Ongama Mtimka, from Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha, said Magashule could exploit some loopholes in the decision.
He said Magashule might want to broaden the scope of who should step aside to include not just those criminally charged in court, but those with crime allegations hanging over their heads.
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“Also, he has an option to go the legal route using the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty,” Mtimka said.
Magashule kept the country in suspense when he declined to voluntarily step aside despite persuasion by his colleagues in the ANC top six.
He seemed to understand when he was advised to obey the party instruction by stalwarts Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, from whom Magashule sought counsel prior to his supposed voluntary stepping aside.
At its meeting on Monday, the NWC – the highest decision-making body in meetings of the powerful NEC – resolved that the decision of the last NEC taken on 26-29 March must be implemented, closing all escape routes for Magashule.
The committee – comprising the top six officials, the representative of the ANC youth, women’s and veterans’ leagues and provincial representatives – resolved that those charged with corruption or other serious crimes and who have not stepped aside should be suspended in terms of rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution.
“The NWC instructed that the necessary letters must be written to the affected members implementing this decision and outlining the terms and conditions regulating their participation andconduct during the suspension,” an ANC statement said.
Other senior members affected by the decision due to corruption charges they face are ANC MP Bongani Bongo, former eThekwini metro mayor Zandile Gumede and ANC Limpopo provincial treasurer Danny Msiza.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial task team coordinator Mike Mabuyakhulu voluntarily stepped aside yesterday prior to the NWC announcement. Magashule and others who intend to appeal the decision could do so via an appeals panel to be set up in terms of the guidelines and procedures on the step-aside rule.
The establishment of a panel is a new route in the ANC disciplinary processes. At the same time, the constitutionality of the panel and its powers to act decide disciplinary cases could be challenged in court.