Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Ace vs ANC set down for full bench on 24 June

The unprecedented court battle between the ANC and suspended secretary general Ace Magashule will no longer be heard this week, but on 24 to 25 June, after it was assigned to a full bench.

The matter was set down for urgent hearing in the high court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, but it is understood the delay was brought, in part, by Magashule’s preference, expressed in his notice of motion, that the matter be heard by the full court.

Magashule served papers on the governing party; his deputy, Jessie Duarte; and President Cyril Ramaphosa a fortnight ago, asking the high court in Johannesburg to set aside his suspension as the party’s number two, but validate his own, unilateral attempt to suspend the president. 

In his affidavit, he argued that the party’s step-aside guidelines, agreed by a resolution of its national executive committee (NEC) earlier this year, are in breach of the ANC’s constitution and not in line with that of the country.

Magashule contended that these create an unlawful “narrowing” of the resolutions of the party’s 54th conference, under which all members implicated in corrupt activities would be forced to vacate their positions. The NEC does not have the power to rewrite the rules as confirmed by conference; therefore, rule 27.5, which was invoked as the basis for his suspension, should be set aside.

On the other hand, Magashule added, his bid to suspend Ramaphosa was in line with the party’s original resolutions and should stand.

In February, charges of fraud, theft and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act were laid against Ramaphosa, on the basis of former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe’s testimony before the Zondo commission, in which he accused the president of enabling the “capture” of Eskom for the sake of his business interests.

It is widely believed that Magashule’s own faction with the ANC was behind the laying of charges against the president, precisely to allow him to argue, when the time comes, that, should he be forced to step aside, so should Ramaphosa. 

In his suspension letter sent to Ramaphosa on 5 May, Magashule refers to the fact that the president has been referred to “the serious offences directorate”, but also invokes the legal wrangling over unsealing the donor records of the CR17 campaign.

In his affidavit filed in response last week, the president noted that the crucial difference is that he has not been indicted, unlike Magashule, who is heading to trial on more than 70 charges relating to the Free State asbestos audit scandal.

“The rule only applies to members who have ‘been indicted to appear in a court of law on any charge’. I have not been so indicted,” Ramaphosa said. 

There was, moreover, no suggestion from senior structures in the ANC that funding for his leadership campaign broke the law or went against the rules. Ramaphosa noted that, in terms of rule 27.5, the secretary general must act on the authority of the NEC or the national working committee.

Magashule’s move to suspend Ramaphosa lacked this standing. It is not only unlawful, he argued, but was done out of “vindictive spite”.

But, the legal points aside, the applicant and the respondents raised political arguments that set out the power struggle within the party.

Ramaphosa argued that the 54th conference, at which he was elected leader of the ANC, marked a “watershed moment” in the party’s efforts to confront criminal conduct within its ranks, and said his resolve to lead the party to organisational renewal was not factional.

In his far lengthier affidavit, Magashule instead described it as a blunt instrument to remove the president’s political opponents and facilitate his re-election at the next conference in 2022.

”The false and contrived anti-corruption crusade is being used as a ruse to purge those who are unwanted due to ideological and factional differences,” Magashule said.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Mabuza’s Russian jaunts and the slippery consequences of medical tourism

For more than five years the deputy president has remained steadfast in his right to travel abroad to receive medical treatment

More top stories

New electronic waste management regulations will take effect in November

Producers and importers of electronic goods will be legally responsible for end-of-life management of their products from 5 November

The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right

An examination of the language the party uses shows that it is echoing right-wing voices the world over in its insistence that those who point out its racism are, in fact, the real racists

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Ugandan teachers turn to coffin-making after schools close

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the country’s schools closing and teachers being left without jobs

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…