As the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meets to discuss the clean out of members charged with corruption this weekend, its women’s league appears to have abandoned temporarily suspended secretary general Ace Magashule.
The ANC Women’s League has called on Magashule — who was suspended on 3 May but who has refused to step aside and has instead issued a letter suspending party president Cyril Ramaphosa — to “humble himself” and abide by the decision of the NEC.
This follows a fierce battle within the league’s national working committee (NWC) on Thursday and its NEC the following day in which women’s league president Bathabile Dlamini had pushed for the league to back Magashule.
Dlamini appears to have been defeated, along with a plan for the women’s league to march on the NEC meeting in support of Magashule.
Magashule is out on bail over a R255-million Free State asbestos removal tender which was plundered during his time as premier of the province.
In a statement issued on Saturday morning, women’s league secretary general Meokgo Matuba said that both meetings had supported the decisions of the NEC, but would continue to support women who were charged and were instructed to stand aside from their positions until the end of their trials.
Matuba said the women’s league was “worried about the public conduct of our leaders, including the secretary general of the ANC.”
“With the suspension imposed on him, we appeal to him as women to consider humbling himself while organisational processes unfold,” Matuba said. “We know that it is difficult but we plead with him to rise above and not conduct himself in a way that further weakens the already struggling ANC.”
On Friday night, Magashule publicly defied the party leadership in a lengthy television interview in which he claimed that he and other leaders, including Matuba, were being targeted over their political views. Magashule also vowed to attend the NEC meeting, despite his suspension over corruption charges.
The women’s league added that it was “worried” by Magashule’s use of Matuba’s name during a television interview in which he defied the party leadership.
“The ANCWL will not support any individual leader of the ANC but stands to affirm the entire collective leadership of the ANC and our confidence in them,” she said.
Matuba said the league would “choose the ANC above all divisions in the movement” and refused to be drawn into “the differences of ANC men who don’t care about the future of the liberation movement”.
In an apparent concession to Dlamini and her supporters, Matuba said the women’s league wanted all resolutions of Nasrec and other ANC conferences to be “implemented in their totality”.
The women’s league further affirmed the importance of party branches — which Magashule had hoped would rally to his defence — and called on them to discuss all of the decisions of the higher structures at its national general council (NGC) meeting, which will take place later this year.
“We encourage structures of the ANC to discuss all issues threatening the life of the ANC and weakening its fighting capacity in the upcoming NGC. This includes the 10-point step aside resolution,” Matuba said.
The Magashule faction has been pushing that the step-aside decision and his suspension be taken to the party branches for ratification.