/ 23 March 2021

RET is a splinter party established in Magashule’s office, says ANC EC secretary

Free State Premier Ace Magashule said it was important for the ANC to deploy its best cadres in key positions in government.
Splinter cell: ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape has accused some individuals within secretary general Ace Magashule’s office of attempting to start a splinter group of the ANC from within. ANC secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said this when he announced that the provincial executive committee (PEC) had suspended five of its members, who are facing court charges. 

Ngcukayitobi said the PEC expected a fight-back from members, adding that, “Those that benefited from the capture and corruption will do whatever that is in their power to fight back.” 

Ngcukayitobi was also asked by journalists to react to the warring factions in the ANC nationally. 

Not mincing his words, the secretary of the third-largest province in the ANC said the radical economic transformation (RET) groups that have been vehemently defending Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma, were not outside of how the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Congress of the People were formed. 

“The ANC must confront that particular reality: that both organisations were formed in the belly of the ANC. Therefore, the ANC should be alive to the risk of keeping some individuals in the head offices working in the office of the secretary general and pronouncing themselves outside the ANC.

“That RET thing that is found in the ANC sixth floor of Luthuli House is nothing of the sort of a tendency of a faction, but it has grown into a formidable organisation that will contest the ANC,” he said, adding that the ANC should deal with it as an organisation, rather than a tendency. 

Ngcukayitobi said the RET group were trying to “create a basis for a splinter” should the party implement its resolution on the renewal of the organisation. 

“It’s clear that we must deal decisively with rogue elements within the organisation,” he said. 

His statements come after Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus, who also works at Magashule’s office, penned an RET manifesto, called Radical Economic Transformation: a Basic Document, with the subtitle, Unpacking RET in alignment to the Freedom Charter.

The document calls for the governing party to return to its socialist ideological orientation, stating that there cannot be organisational renewal without a recommitment to that approach.

In the document, Niehaus, who has been at the forefront of the RET group particularly in Gauteng, writes that the RET factions reject unity based on “abstract formulas” or a liberal approach to those who deviate from the core of our national liberation struggle in theory and in practice. 

“We reject unity that is not based on a clear commitment to the core of the national democratic revolution, which is to shift economic power to African people the majority of whom are working class. We reject unity that is based on this or that individual agreeing to share positions of leadership. We reject unity that is based on blind loyalty to this or that leader; unity that is based on money politics, regardless of whether the leader deviates from the core of our national liberation politics in their public and private pronouncements,” the document stated.

In a statement released on 11 March, the RET’s national operations committee — which is not recognised by the motherbody — resolved to use the paper as a discussion and mobilisation document in engaging with the branches and members of the ANC throughout the country.

“Concern was expressed that the NGC [national general council] discussion documents, which the ANC issued last year, fail to reflect the correct ideological position of radical economic transformation as the official economic policy programme of the ANC. These discussion documents do not reflect and promote the RET resolutions that were taken at the 54th national conference of the ANC, and are imbued by neoliberal economic policies that are alien to the liberation history and revolutionary character of the ANC,” the committee’s statement read.