Johannesburg – The outcome of this past weekend’s scheduled meeting between ANC secretary- general Ace Magashule and the party’s integrity commission will become the new battleground between the supporters of the former Free State premier and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Sunday World understands that Ramaphosa’s supporters will use the findings of the commission – if they happen to be adverse – to force Magashule to step aside or to be summarily suspended at the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in the new year.
The two camps reached a stalemate this week during the NEC meeting, which started on Sunday and ended on Tuesday.
With five legal opinions and a titanic battle that ensued between the two factions, the secretary-general survived a strong push to step aside after he was charged with 21 counts of corruption, fraud and money- laundering.
At the heart of the war of attrition between the two powerful groupings is the party’s 2017 resolution that those charged with corruption should step aside to clear their names.
The majority of the legal opinions stated that the resolution was at odds with the country’s constitution, giving Magashule a slight edge over his detractors.
It was decided to again refer the matter to the ANC officials to give clear guidelines on the circumstances under which ANC members should be asked to step aside.
But Magashule is not off the hook, according to Ramaphosa supporters.
An NEC member aligned to Ramaphosa said the integrity committee, led by ANC veteran George Mashamba, was likely to come down hard on Magashule and ask him to step aside.
“The determination by the integrity committee is going to throw us into the deep end. The issues of factionalism are going to rear their ugly head in the new year,” he said.
“He (Magashule) won’t survive those old people (integrity commission). This NEC was a dry run. It is not a victory for them, it is a fairness of the process. They will ask him why he must not step aside given the seriousness of the allegations against him,” he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A neutral NEC member said, “The NEC meeting post IC (integrity committee outcome on Magashule) is going to give a clear picture of the balance of forces. The problem is that Nasrec [elective conference in 2017] gave us a divided NEC – from the top six to the NEC.”
An NEC member aligned to Magashule said his supporters, including ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, wanted the resolution to be reviewed at the party’s national general council scheduled for May.
NEC member Dakota Legoete said in the meeting this week Magashule’s suspension was going to divide the party and had to be dropped in the same manner as the party decided against the resolution of the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank on the advice of Ramaphosa, among other issues.
The committee wanted to meet Magashule on November 21, which his supporters interpreted as an attempt to weaken him towards this week’s NEC meeting.
They also believed the commission had prejudged him.
“The NPA’s [National Prosecuting Authority] decision to charge you with serious criminal offences has plunged the ANC into crisis. As secretary-general, you are the face of the ANC. These allegations against you have serious implications for the standing of the ANC and bring the ANC into disrepute,” Mashamba said to Magashule in a letter dated November 16.
Magashule’s supporters said they would fight whatever outcome the integrity commission reached when its report was tabled for ratification. The commission said it would not comment.
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