There are mounting calls for beleaguered ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule to face disciplinary action for sowing division ahead of the ANC’s top brass meeting this weekend.
Magashule, who was suspended from his position for refusing to obey the “step-aside” rule, defied the party’s restrictions which barred him from representing the ANC in any capacity, and instead announced that he had “suspended” President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Several ANC national executive committee (NEC) members are now pushing for action against Magashule over accusations of ill-discipline as he continues to revolt against his suspension.
Magashule, who is facing fraud and corruption charges relating to a multimillion-rand asbestos tender saga in the Free State, pointed out that his deputy Jessie Duarte had no authority to push him out of Luthuli House and that he remained the governing party’s organisational head.
The party’s NEC will hold a special meeting at the weekend to receive reports on the stepping aside or suspension of criminally charged leaders as per its March directive.
ANC Veterans Association president Snuki Zikalala said the NEC had to reflect on Magashule’s behaviour and impose measures to ensure that his conduct did not continue. “What he is doing now… I don’t understand. I read his statement and listened to him. I was very shocked. The party will have to look at it and decide,” he said.
“The secretary-general’s office is the highest office in the organisation and we expected that these are people who understand and know the values and principles of the ANC.”
Zikalala said Magashule had the opportunity to leave the organisation instead of sowing divisions over being subjected to discipline like other members.
Another NEC member, Enoch Godongwana, said Magashule had disrespected the ANC and that it would have to discuss his actions. “He has clearly disrespected the organisation, but let the party decide what it does about this,” Godongwana said.
Another NEC member who asked not to be named pointed out that Magashule’s behaviour was in violation of the party’s constitution as it flouted the restrictions placed on the secretary-general. “He has already violated the conditions of his suspension. The organisation cannot just sit back as if it has not noticed, otherwise [we] will not have a party,” the member said.
Magashule’s planned press conference was cancelled at the 11th hour yesterday without explanation.
Two of Magashule’s sympathisers within the NEC indicated that the implementation of the “step-aside” rule was politically motivated and that it would have to be resolved by the courts. “It is clear that this is factional and the courts may have to decide on it now,” one NEC member who is supporting Magashule said.
University of Cape Town law professor Cathy Powell said those mulling over court action would have to prove that the NEC acted outside its powers when it created the “step-aside” rule and its guidelines.
“What the courts will be looking at is whether the ANC constitution allows people to be suspended if they decide [not] to voluntarily step aside. If not, then the ANC has not kept to its own constitution. If it acted within its powers, then it would be difficult to win. So one would need to determine if the NEC had the power to make the step-aside rule decision in terms of its constitution,” Powell said.
Powell said the affected members would also have to prove that there was “clear bias or irrelevant consideration in the decision-making process”.
Political analyst Prof Mcebisi Ndletyana said the internal ANC battle was a “good fight” as it was about strengthening the party and giving it “some moral standing”.
SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said he hoped that the ANC’s national leaders exert their authority. “There has already been a fightback. The grouping embarking on a fightback has to be called into order to accept the processes and the authority of the organisation,” Mapaila said.