Blow for Magashule as Free State provincial task team is appointed

Suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule has suffered another setback after the party’s national working committee (NWC) appointed an interim party leadership for the Free State dominated by supporters of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.

While senior members of Magashule’s faction in the Free State are present on the provincial task team (PTT) — whose members were confirmed by the NWC on Monday — some of his fiercest critics are also there, including former economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana.

Dukwana is convener of the PTT, while premier Sisi Ntombela, a former backer of Magashule who has since turned against him, is the coordinator.  

Other members include  Seiso Mohai, the ANC chief whip in the National Council of Provinces and former provincial secretary, Paseka Nompondo.

Provincial chairperson Sam Mashinini, one of Magashule’s strongest supporters, has been excluded from the PTT. 

Other key members include veteran Ike Moroe, another fierce critic of Magashule, and one of the suspended secretary general’s backers, Thembeni Nxangisa.

The PTT will take over the running of the ANC in the province until a provincial conference can be held — at which a new provincial executive committee (PEC) will be elected. 

The composition of the PTT is a blow to the Magashule faction, which has dominated the province, but which is facing a major challenge in the wake of his suspension from the party’s top six. 

Magashule is out on bail on corruption charges stemming from the province’s R255-million asbestos replacement scandal, which took place while he was Free State premier and Free State ANC chairperson.

The ANC Free State PEC, which was packed with Magahule’s supporters, was dissolved by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) last month after a ruling by the supreme court of appeal in a challenge to the outcome of the 2018 provincial conference.

The conference was held in defiance of a November 2017 court order, which halted it because of the existence of fraudulent branches. Its outcome and decisions were found to be unlawful.

Although the PEC initially served notice of its intention to appeal the ruling, it later accepted an instruction from Ramaphosa to seek a political solution through setting up a PTT  consisting of leaders of both factions.

A source in the ANC in the Free State said the PTT was “full of people who were close to Ace but now have dumped him”.

“Ace is in trouble on this one. There are also a lot of [Transport Minister Fikile] Mbalula’s allies from the Free State on this list and who are now making a comeback,” the source said. 

“This means there is nobody to mobilise the branches in support of him.”

“There is some risk for Cyril here because there are some people who have tainted histories, but at least it is a movement away from where we have been for the past 10 years.”

On Tuesday, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte confirmed that the PTT had been appointed in a bid to bring together the “groupings” within the ANC in the province.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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