Inside Ace Magashule’s fight-back plan

Johannesburg – The backers of embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule want the new guidelines forcing him to step aside pending his corruption case to be settled by the party’s mid-term meeting, the national general council (NGC).

Sunday World understands that part of the  ght-back plan of Magashule and his allies is for structures of the party to push back against the guidelines compelling those criminally charged to step aside to clear their names.

The guidelines and procedures were last week adopted by the organisation’s national executive committee (NEC), the highest decision-making body between conferences.

But a battle is raging over the interpretation of the NEC outcomes on whether the guidelines should be implemented or subjected to discussions by structures of the governing party.

While supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa are pushing ahead with the implementation of the guidelines, forcing those facing criminal charges to step aside, provinces with strong Magashule support are not implementing the guidelines, while others are cautious because of divisions.

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In terms of size and influence, the provinces that hold sway in ANC decisions are Kwa- Zulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

Last week, Ramaphosa used his closing address to call on those facing criminal charges to step aside.

However, Magashule, speaking at an impromptu press conference after his court appearance in Bloemfontein on Friday, said only branches could remove him from his position.

He said the NEC had taken a clear decision to refer the guidelines to structures of the ANC, adding that it was the national conference that was the party’s highest decision-making body.

Eastern Cape premier and ANC provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane, a Ramaphosa ally, this week used the guidelines to  re his health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, who is facing fraud charges related to former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral, and has also been implicated in the controversial R10-million procurement of 200 ambulance motorcycles for Covid-19-related emergencies.

ANC Eastern Cape secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said they were considering the names of more leaders facing criminal charges.

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“Their recusal will allow them time and space to dispel the allegations put to them. This is in keeping with the resolution of the 54th ANC national conference, which in no uncertain terms says all comrades who have been formally charged for corruption or other serious crimes must immediately step aside pending the  nalisation of their cases,” said Ngcukayitobi.

But ANC Mpumalanga secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the NEC did not have a  nal say on the review of conference resolutions, which was a function of the NGC.

She said her province was taking the guidelines to structures for consultation and would submit branches’ inputs to Magashule’s office.

Asked what should happen if the structures reject or set the guidelines aside, she said: “It is their power, we must convene an NGC and go there because these documents are conference documents.”

Moves were afoot in the party’s biggest region, eThekwini, to push back against the resolutions.

A senior ANC eThekwini region leader said if the guidelines were implemented, it would mean most leaders in the party should resign.

“Comrades in eThekwini are of a view that there must be a thorough consultation process and that this should not be done chaotically.”

ANC Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane said: “The NEC has been developing guidelines. One among them is the selection of councillors. We reviewed them last year.

“Did you hear any leader or any branch of the ANC or any other lower structure saying that those guidelines must be taken to branches or provinces for endorsement?”

Additional reporting by Sandile Motha.

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