Ace Magashule has filed papers in the high court in Johannesburg on an urgent basis, asking that it strike down the ANC’s step-aside rule as unlawful, along with his suspension as the secretary general of the ruling party, and warning that the crisis in the party could shake the country.
He is also asking that the letter of suspension he served on President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 5 be declared “valid and effective until lawfully nullified”.
Third, he is seeking a declaration that the instruction issued by Ramaphosa and ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, that he apologise for sending the letter to the president, be declared unlawful and unenforceable.
Magashule wants the court to lift his suspension as secretary general and restore all his rights in the organisation that he held until 5 May, the date when the letter of suspension was sent to him by Duarte, though it was dated two days earlier.
The papers give Ramaphosa, Duarte and the ANC until 2pm today (14 May) to notify Magashule’s lawyers whether they intend to oppose the application, and until 20 May to file their answering affidavits.
Magashule listed the ANC as the third respondent in his papers, and signalled he would ask for a cost order if the respondents chose to oppose the relief he is seeking.
In his founding affidavit, he said his rights as a member of the ANC, and in terms of the party’s constitution and that of the country, have been breached by his suspension.
He said the outcome of the application would “have a huge and profound impact on the public interest going right up to the highest office in the ruling party and the state”.
He further ventured that his battle against the respondents was not a mundane organisational disagreement but a crisis that will shake the country.
“Upon reflection, and bearing in mind the position of the ANC as the custodian of the state and ruling party for 27 years since the advent of democracy in South Africa, it will be clearer that the attendant crisis in the ANC spells a crisis for all South Africans, whether or not they support or vote for the ANC.”
The court application comes after he was excluded from a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee and ordered to apologise for retaliating to his own suspension with a letter sent unilaterally to Ramaphosa informing the president that he was suspended as the leader of the party.
He has refused to apologise, placing him at risk of expulsion from the party.
In his affidavit, he says that he has “exhausted all internal remedies” in his bid to retain his standing in the party.