Johannesburg – Loss of support and stern advice from former president Thabo Mbeki and former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe have, forced embattled ANC secretary- general Ace Magashule to finally capitulate and backtrack over his decision to reject calls for him to step aside.
Magashule’s fate is expected to be sealed today at a crucial meeting of the ANC top six officials to be held this morning in Hyde Park, Joburg, at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s residence.
In another twist, Magashule’s departure is expected to also herald a massive cabinet reshuffle, which could see State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula axed as Ramaphosa tightens his grip.
Sunday World can reveal that Magashule, in the face of pressure from Ramaphosa’s allies who have in recent weeks gained ground in the batt le for the soul of the party, has climbed down from his initial stance that he would refuse to step aside. Magashule is set to make a presentation to the officials – who include deputy president David Mabuza, chairperson Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary Jessie Duarte and treasurer Paul Mashatile – on his consultations with ANC elders, and then ask for their advice on the way forward, instead of showing them the middle finger.
On Friday, which was the last of the 30 days the ANC gave leaders to step aside, Magashule met with Mbeki at the former ANC president’s house in Killarney, and later Motlanthe at his foundation’s offices in Houghton, Joburg to seek counsel on the matter.
“They [Mbeki and Motlanthe] played an elderly role. The elders were not factional at all,” said a source close to Magashule. Ramaphosa, Mantashe, Duarte and Mashatile have made it clear that the step-aside resolution must be implemented. It was expected that the officials were going to recommend to Magashule that he steps aside – and that he would be suspended should he refuse to do so.
The party’s national working committee (NWC) was expected to meet tomorrow to process the decision of the ANC officials and make recommendations to the party’s national executive committee (NEC) , which is meeting over the coming weekend. A senior leader in Ramaphosa’s camp said they were preparing to expel Magashule should he refuse to step aside: “If he doesn’t step aside, he will be expelled. If he challenges it [suspension in court], he is going to go the Malema route” he said, meaning that he would be fired like the former Youth League leader Julius Malema.
This comes as Magashule’s grip showed signs of faltering as his camp appeared to be losing some of its key allies. Sunday World has established that another key member of the secretariat, head of organising Nomvula Mokonyane, has also dumped Magashule. Mokonyane, the former water affairs and sanitation minister in Zuma’s cabinet, is responsible for membership and was a key figure in their auditing towards the party’s elective conference next year.
Asked about allegations that she has switched sides, Mokonyane said: “Sadly, I will not comment if this has to do with faceless informers; any other matter please reveal the sources.”
Duarte also recently launched a blistering att ack on Magashule and his supporters, indicating that she was prepared to carry out the party’s instruction on Magashule’s suspension.
Magashule’s departure from office will also herald a reshuffle of the cabinet in a move that the president wants to use to consolidate his power.
Ramaphosa’s supporters said the head of state no longer wanted to consult with Magashule on cabinet appointments. Apart from those facing the chop, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was set to be deployed to the Presidency to replace the late Jackson Mthembu.
The ministry of women, youth and persons with disabilities, headed by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, was set to be dissolved.
“The reshuffle is coming. But why would you reshuffle when the SG [Magashule] is still there. Remember you have to consult the SG. Immediately when he leaves, they [his supporters] will abandon him,” a source close to the president said.
The Eastern Cape said it has been proactive in compelling compromised comrades to step aside and clear their names. According to the party’s provincial spokesperson Gift Ngqondi, the organisation had not experienced any resistance from their senior leaders charged with corruption and facing various malfeasance allegations.
He described the step-aside process in the province as seamless. Former Eastern Cape health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba was one of the high-profi le ANC leaders ordered to step aside after being implicated in the tender fraud relating to the acquisition of R10-million scooter ambulances as part of Covid-19 related emergencies. More than 20 senior leaders were instructed to step aside in the province. KwaZulu-Natal, one of the ANC’s biggest and influential provinces, said the process of step aside was no longer a provincial matter but was now under scrutiny by the party’s national working committee.
“We have played our part and submitted the list to the NEC. We will now hear from the national working committee who are sitting on Monday,” explained KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela.
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