‘They’re out to get Ma­gashule’

The sec­re­tary gen­eral’s sup­port­ers claim he is not con­sulted on mat­ters that fall un­der his of­fice

Mail & Guardian - - News - Ma­tuma Let­soalo & Di­neo Bendile

Sup­port­ers of Ace Ma­gashule be­lieve the knives are out for the ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral and are ac­cus­ing his op­po­nents in the gov­ern­ing party of us­ing state re­sources to con­duct a clan­des­tine in­ves­ti­ga­tion against him.

“We are aware that they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing him and the plan is to charge him soon af­ter the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions,” a close ally of Ma­gashule, who asked not to be named, told the Mail & Guardian this week. A sec­ond source con­firmed this.

In Jan­uary, the Hawks raided the for­mer Free State pre­mier’s Bloem­fontein of­fices, as well as those of the agri­cul­ture depart­ment, in con­nec­tion with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the Estina dairy farm­ing project linked to the Gupta fam­ily. The Hawks said at the time that all in­for­ma­tion col­lected from the raid would be handed over to the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity.

On Thurs­day, the of­fice of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor con­firmed it had launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the role of politi­cians in the dairy project. This fol­lows a pre­vi­ous probe that did not con­sider po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.

With the ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture ex­pected to be­gin in Au­gust, Ma­gashule could find him­self hauled be­fore it to ac­count for any role he may have played in the botched project.

His sup­port­ers have also ac­cused a fac­tion in the ANC aligned to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa of try­ing to di­lute Ma­gashule’s pow­ers and un­der­min­ing his au­thor­ity as the sec­re­tary gen­eral (SG).

They say some min­is­ters in the Cabi­net fail to con­sult Ma­gashule when key ap­point­ments are made to paras­tatals. As an ex­am­ple, they cite the re­cent de­ci­sion by the ANC’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee (NWC) to re­ject the names sug­gested by Ma­gashule as can­di­dates for chair­per­sons of the par­lia­men­tary port­fo­lio com­mit­tees. Last month Ma­gashule put for­ward the names of for­mer min­is­ters Faith Muthambi, David Mahlobo and Joe Maswan­ganyi as well as for­mer deputy min­is­ter Thandi Ma­ham­behlala. Only Maswan­ganyi made it (as chair­per­son of the pub­lic ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion port­fo­lio com­mit­tee).

The orig­i­nal list was pro­posed by the ANC’s po­lit­i­cal coun­cil headed by Na­tional As­sem­bly speaker Baleka Mbete. Ma­gashule’s pre­ferred can­di­dates were re­jected af­ter ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu told the party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) and the NWC that Ma­gashule was not en­ti­tled to add names.

A se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial sym­pa­thetic to Ma­gashule said: “You have to look at this is­sue in the con­text of prece­dent. He [Ma­gashule] is not the first SG of the ANC. There was Kgalema [Mot­lanthe] and there was Gwede [Man­tashe]. Gwede was do­ing de­ploy­ment sin­gle-hand­edly in terms of who goes to Par­lia­ment and would com­mu­ni­cate a de­ci­sion from Luthuli House to the chief whip of the ANC. But now they are try­ing to di­lute the power of that of­fice.”

He said a pro­posal was tabled in the NEC ear­lier this year that Ma­gashule “be re­moved as chair of the na­tional list com­mit­tee. That was re­jected be­cause that’s a SG’s role, to head the na­tional list com­mit­tee.”

It was also the sec­re­tary gen­eral’s role to de­ploy lead­ers to speak at pro­vin­cial ral­lies, he said. “You don’t just in­vite of­fi­cials you want into your rally. You sent a pro­posal to the SG to make a fi­nal say.” In­stead, “com­rades just wake up and ask their prov­inces — where they claim to have ground — [to] ‘or­gan­ise an event for me I will come and ad­dress’. ”

An­other se­nior ANC leader and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said that, al­though the ANC de­ploy­ment com­mit­tee is headed by the deputy pres­i­dent, all com­mit­tees are sup­posed to re­port to the of­fice of the sec­re­tary gen­eral, and usu­ally de­ploy­ment rec­om­men­da­tions would be made in con­sul­ta­tion with that of­fice.

“But since Nas­rec [the De­cem­ber ANC con­fer­ence where Ma­gashule was elected], noth­ing ever comes to the de­ploy­ment com­mit­tee.

“We see po­si­tions for board mem­bers in var­i­ous state-owned en­ter­prises be­ing ad­ver­tised in news­pa­pers to­day, and two days later peo­ple are ap­pointed with­out hav­ing con­sulted the ANC de­ploy­ment com­mit­tee and the of­fice of the SG.”

Ma­gashule sup­port­ers have also com­plained about re­peated at­tempts to re­move him as head of the list com­mit­tee, which over­sees the se­lec­tion of ANC pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Par­lia­ment and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures ahead of next year’s gen­eral elec­tions. Who­ever makes it into Par­lia­ment as an MP stands a good chance of be­ing ap­pointed into theCabi­net ex­ec­u­tive as min­is­ters or deputy min­is­ters af­ter the elec­tions.

“They [Ramaphosa sup­port­ers] want to make sure that the list is dom­i­nated by his peo­ple. They know that, with Ace at the helm and many ANC struc­tures across the coun­try still dom­i­nated by [for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob] Zuma sup­port­ers, this is un­likely to hap­pen,” said a se­nior ANC leader close to Ma­gashule.

ANC spokesper­son Pule Mabe was not avail­able for com­ment at the time of going to print.

Ig­nored: Sup­port­ers of ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral Ace Ma­gashule say a fac­tion in the ANC that backs Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa is try­ing to un­der­mine his au­thor­ity. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images /Netwerk24

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