Faction aims to unseat Magashule

A faction in the Free State calling itself the Regime Change Group says it has done enough work to oust ANC provincial chairperson Ace Magashule at the party’s provincial conference next month.

The group wants to replace Magashule, who is also the province’s premier, with provincial treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana. It accuses Magashule of weakening the ANC in the province and presiding over a corrupt administration.

The group is led by Dukwana, ANC provincial secretary Sibongile Besani and MK Veterans’ Association provincial chairperson Gregory Nthatisi.

“Politically, the ANC is terribly weak at the moment in the province and branches are in a state of disarray, as pointed out by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe in his political report last year,” said a provincial ANC leader who supports plans to remove Magashule.

“We are losing key wards to the Democratic Alliance as a result of factionalism and deepening divisions in the party under comrade Magashule’s leadership.”

He also claimed that “there is rampant corruption in many government departments and in the form of the Hlasela Fund, which is not a policy of the ANC but a vehicle to enrich Magashule and his cronies. There is patronage and we have seen a skewed distribution of government work in favour of those close to the chosen one.”

The provincial leader said the breakaway grouping was guaranteed a decisive lead in four regions of the five in the Free State: Motheo, Thabo Mofutsanyana, Lejweleputswa and Xhariep. Fezile Dabi region, however, is said to support Magashule, the longest-serving provincial chairperson with 17 years at the helm. He also enjoys grassroots support across the province.

Five scheduled conferences
The five regions are scheduled to hold their regional conferences in the coming weeks before the provincial conference in June.

“We have garnered enough support during our campaign,” the anti-Magashule leader claimed. “Branch general meetings have been held and we’re certain that we will get a decisive lead in four regions except the Fezile Dabi region, the home base of Magashule. He can convene any conference at any moment in these four regions and he will be routed.”

If Magashule is re-elected, it would boost President Jacob Zuma’s campaign for another term at the party’s national congress in December.

Dukwana’s faction is said to be in favour of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s bid to replace Zuma.

The group, which includes the ANC Youth League in the province, accused Magashule of purging credible ANC leaders who posed a threat to him and replacing them with mediocre leaders who had contributed to the decline of the party and affected the government’s capacity to deliver.

“There is a lack of strong ANC structures while political consciousness is on the decline, because if you speak ill of the dear leader you’re purged or destroyed,” said a provincial leader. “He has purged capable leaders such as Pat Matosa, Anna Buthelezi, Clayson Morule, Neo Masithela and Casca Mokitlane, who later defected to the Congress of the People.”

Magashule received a boost this week when the Young Communist League threw its weight behind him, saying he should be given another term as ANC chairperson.

Magashule has come out against the use of money to lobby for positions in the ANC and said the problem had to be nipped in the bud before it destroyed the party.

Magashule and Dukwana were unavailable for comment.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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