The ANC’s national officials are set to hold an urgent meeting today after the revelation on Wednesday night that secretary general Ace Magashule had attempted to “suspend” party president Cyril Ramaphosa via a written letter.
Magashule’s letter, in which he refused to step aside, said he would be appealing his suspension and added that he was “suspending” Ramaphosa. The letter is said to have angered the president.
“There is likely going to be a push to do something more permanent now,” a senior leader in the party told the Mail & Guardian.
Magashule confirmed to the M&G on Wednesday night that the letter was “not fake”, and that he had told party spokesperson Pule Mabe the same.
He said he had the authority to suspend Ramaphosa because he was still the secretary general of the governing party, adding that the president too had been implicated in potentially corrupt acts.
“The resolution says all those who are alleged, reported and charged [must step aside],” he said.
During the short phone call on Wednesday night, the M&G could hear voices in the background that appeared to be Magashule supporters criticising Mabe for initially denying the authenticity of the letter.
“Why don’t you read those 10 points? They are using state organs and we are quiet and we know this. We know what they are cooking against Supra [Mahumapelo], Bongani Bongo, Lindiwe Sisulu. We know what they are cooking. I will not step aside and I am still the secretary general elected by conference,” Magashule told the M&G.
The M&G also spoke to ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday, who dismissed Magashule’s letter, saying that the Luthuli House head — officially informed of his suspension on Monday — had no authority to suspend Ramaphosa.
“This is an organisation. You don’t wake up angry and take a decision and communicate it. This is of no consequence, because we were at the national working committee yesterday and this decision was not discussed. He makes a decision at his home alone and writes to the president. That is not how decisions are made in an organisation,” Mantashe said.
But Magashule claims he is duty bound to uphold the party’s constitution and all administrative processes, and has urged his colleagues to also follow the appropriate internal appeals process.
“It follows that the suspensions of all affected members will also, in terms of the ANC constitution, be suspended with immediate effect. I have also, in accordance with the powers vested in me as the secretary general of the ANC … summarily suspended the president of the ANC, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa,” Magashule said in his letter.
“This is done in terms of resolution 8.2 of the 54th national conference, which states that, ‘Every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices accounts to the Integrity Committee immediately, or faces DC [disciplinary committee] processes resolution 8.3 that further provides for the suspension of, ‘… people who fail to give an acceptable explanation, or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures’.”
Mabe issued a statement late on Wednesday night saying that the step-aside decisions taken by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) and national working committee “stand”.
“The NEC will be meeting over the weekend and will accordingly respond to the secretary general. The ANC request[s] that the secretary general respect the decisions of the NEC and subject himself to the discipline of the organisation,” said Mabe.