/ 8 May 2021

Ramaphosa faction dividing Limpopo — NEC hears

A vote for the ANC
The ANC will leave a legacy muddied by political careerism, personality cults and corruption (David Harrison/M&G)

ANC Limpopo provincial chairperson Stan Mathabatha has raised concern over president Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction dividing his province. In a leaked recording during Saturday’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting, Mathabatha said he had observed “comrades who run around purporting to be the defenders of our president”. 

“They are running and dividing the ANC, pursuing their personal and divisive agendas in the province. Comrade president, they are organising meetings in our province. If the president or the chair or top five permit, I can organise a meeting with the top five and mention those comrades by name and the meetings that they convene in my province where some of us were vilified in those meetings,” he said.

Mathabatha added that the Ramaphosa faction was dividing party leaders into factions which they had no knowledge of. 

He praised Ramaphosa as one of the “best presidents we could ever find as the ANC and we must support him”.

The Limpopo chair suggested that the NEC go to a retreat to diagnose whether the party was still existing or whether it had morphed into three different factions. 

“Some of us hate each other more than they hate the enemy or the opposition,” he said.

The NEC is holding its special meeting to consider suspensions and appeals on the step-aside resolution. 

The Mail & Guardian previously reported that suspended party secretary general Ace Magashule had been prevented from the party’s online meeting after failing in an attempt to defy the order banning him from doing so.

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In a letter to the national disciplinary committee chair Mildred Oliphant, Magashule raised concern over the committee’s slow pace in addressing his appeal. 

Magashule said rule 25.49 of the party’s constitution required that a member be provided with the charge sheet within six months of having had notice of the alleged misconduct adding that he had not yet received his charge sheet. 

“In effect I have been suspended ostensibly in contemplation of misconduct on grounds that the ANC was aware of for a period well in excess of six months. The NDC (national disciplinary committee) has unreasonably delayed commencing disciplinary proceedings against me as contemplated in rule 25.52. Further, the deputy secretary general has suspended me without affording me an opportunity to make representation with respect to the suspension,” Magashule wrote. 

NEC meetings are chaired by national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, who earlier this week dismissed a last ditch attempt by Magashule to suspend party president Ramaphosa.

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Magashule’s supporters in the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction in the party have called for the meeting to be adjourned and be reconvened physically as they claim they are being denied to speak in the online forum.

Three separate sources in the ruling party told the M&G that Magashule had attempted to assert his authority to chair the NEC meeting, which had been called to discuss the implementation of the step-aside resolution and his refusal to abide by his letter of temporary suspension.

The suspended secretary general then refused to abide by the instruction to remove himself from the meeting while his supporters demanded that it be adjourned and held physically.

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One senior ANC source said Magashule had “wanted to preside over the meeting as secretary general”.

This created backlash from Ramaphosa’s supporters, who argued that the suspension letter issued on 3 May made it clear that Magashule was stripped of his secretary general powers.

“He then wanted to stay in the meeting. They said, no, he had to be removed as there would be deliberations around his case and the appeal process, and as such [he] can’t be part of the meeting,” the ANC leader said.

According to the sources, NEC member Tony Yengeni, a key leader of the RET faction, then called for the meeting to be adjourned and reconvened physically to allow his grouping the right to speak.

Magashule told the M&G by telephone on Saturday that he had attended a meeting with the top six and the ANC Women’s League earlier in the day before the NEC began. Magashle said he had attended the NEC and he believed he had a right to do so as he had appealed against the suspension.

After about 70 minutes, the meeting had resolved “that the appeal must be noted and that the secretary general must then be requested to leave the meeting”, Magashule said.

“Because I have appealed, I am still the secretary general of the ANC,” Magashule said.

Magashule said he had not resisted the instruction to leave the meeting and that he was removed from the Zoom link. Magashule said he was “confident” that his appeal would succeed.

Magashule, who is running out of allies, was dealt another blow when the ANC Women’s League called on him 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.

One of Magashule’s key supporters, NEC member Dakota Legoete, told the NEC meeting that the committee, elected at Nasrec in December 2017, had become a “liability” to the country and to the ANC’s structures.

In a leaked recording, Legoete said the NEC had “failed to rise above narrow and factional agendas” and had spent the past four years “dealing with each other”.