Ace’s ‘Samson option’
Besieged Magashule slated for trying to pull down pillars of ANC ‘on all of us’
● ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s fight against his possible removal backfired this week, with national chair Gwede Mantashe saying his actions are an attempt to take the whole party down with him.
To add to Magashule’s woes, two more top-six party leaders publicly called him out on his conduct, and the KwaZulu-Natal leadership effectively banned him from conducting his campaign in the party’s structures in the province.
The setback was especially humiliating in a week in which Magashule visited the key ANC province at the same time as President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was given strong support by provincial leaders.
Magashule and other ANC leaders facing serious charges from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have until the end of the month to step side in terms of a national executive committee (NEC) resolution.
His apparent attempts to muddy the waters — by insisting provincial secretaries submit lists of all people facing allegations of the sort that would cause them to step aside — backfired, with senior leaders launching an unprecedented attack on a fellow leader.
Magashule’s colleagues at Luthuli House — Mantashe, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile — accused him of distorting NEC decisions. They said that only those charged by the NPA should temporarily leave their positions.
Magashule disputed this, saying he was following ANC conference resolutions.
Mantashe, however, suggested Magashule should have recused himself from the stepaside process, and that what he is doing amounts to an attempt to take the whole ANC down with him: “We are in a silly season. People think that if there is an issue about the secretary-general … he goes under, then we must all go under. It’s a silly season.”
Mantashe said a disciplined leader, implicated in the process, would have recused himself from determining who should be affected by the step-aside rule.
“It is always a risk to allow a person who is directly affected to be responsible of the lives of everybody. Because he will pick what is called the Samson option. You pull the pillars, you collapse [the structure] on all of us.
We’re going through that phase now.”
The battle between Magashule and Ramaphosa played out in KwaZulu-Natal this week. Magashule’s fightback campaign was dealt a blow by the provincial leadership, which said the province is not the place to mobilise against NEC decisions.
Insiders said the province’s ANC leaders told Ramaphosa on Thursday evening, during a special provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting, that they want a meeting with the top six to discuss conflicting messages coming out of Luthuli House and to confront leaders who visit the province to mobilise party structures for their interests.
Magashule was in the province this week, meeting former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday and holding other meetings in Durban on Friday.
The Sunday Times understands that the KwaZulu-Natal leaders expressed displeasure about Magashule having met some leaders, apparently to mobilise support ahead of the expiry of the 30-day deadline for him to step down.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli told the Sunday Times the PEC frowns upon leaders who mobilise against NEC decisions. “It is not the right thing to do to mobilise for yourself when you are unhappy with the decisions of the ANC. KZN is not the place to do that as the PEC respects the
It is not the right thing … to mobilise for yourself when you are unhappy with the decisions of the ANC
KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary of the ANC
decisions of the NEC,” said Ntuli.
“But in any situation there will always be instances where people decide to go against the formal position of the ANC, which we are expected to respect. The provincial leadership can never endorse that behaviour because that will be endorsing anarchy.”
Ntuli said it is possible that there are party members who are opposed to the decision. “That is why in all circumstances it’s important for political leadership to mitigate whatever outcome. If the leadership is not leading, the fallout becomes huge and if it’s not managed … things become chaotic.”
Ntuli said the meeting with the top six will take place within a month’s time.
Mantashe’s comments followed those of Duarte and Mashatile. On SABC-TV, Duarte urged Magashule to accept the NEC decision.
“One would hope the SG would accept that particular perspective of himself as a very senior member of this organisation. He’s not junior. The SG is very senior and he’s very knowledgeable in terms of what the ANC rules are. He’s been in the NEC of the ANC since 1992, the first conference in Durban. He has been around. He’s been party to the decisions of the national executive committee,” Duarte said.
Duarte accused Magashule’s backers of playing dirty by leaking recordings of closed ANC meetings to discredit her. She called on Magashule to rein in his supporters.
Mashatile told eNCA on Friday that leaders facing criminal charges should step aside immediately.
“If you are charged, the guidelines say you must step aside immediately. There are comrades who may want to explain themselves to the integrity commission why they have not stepped aside. Then the integrity commission will decide what to do with those cases and report to the NEC. Once the NEC takes a decision that the report of the integrity commission should be upheld and a comrade has not stepped aside, that comrade may then be suspended by the NEC,” said Mashatile.
But Magashule was defiant this week, telling journalists there was nothing sinister about his letter to provincial secretaries as it conveyed national conference resolutions.
“I’m not widening anything, I’m talking about the conference resolutions. Please, my sister, read the conference resolution and the NEC resolution and combine everything and make your own conclusion.
“I hear people want to say only those who’ve been charged [must step aside], and we refer them to the resolution of Nasrec. There are nine points under that resolution: those charged, those alleged, those reported to have been, and considering all things in terms of the law and the South African constitution, ANC constitution, the rule of law, and … we were talking today even about class contradictions,” Magashule said outside Zuma’s home in Nkandla.
Magashule still has the support of some influential leaders in ANC structures. The provincial secretary of the ANC in Mpumalanga, Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, said Magashule should not step aside unless other leaders facing allegations of corruption do the same.
“Mantashe has cases, [Fikile] Mbalula has cases, Zizi [Kodwa] has a case, [Ronald] Lamola has a case, Mam Thandi Modise has a case, and others. They must step aside first so that we can see … If they don’t step down from their positions then no-one will step down, including the ones we asked to step aside at provinces. [They] will have to come back. I have asked a lot of people to step aside here in Mpumalanga, why are they not stepping down at national? Why target one person, the SG?”
She had written back to Magashule to ask him to clarify who she should include on the list, and who she should leave off it.
“So there are other issues that we must clarify, like when there’s allegations and you have not been charged [in court] but you are charged in [the court of public opinion], they have tainted you but there’s nothing against you, must you step aside because there’s allegations against you? … anybody can say ‘Lindiwe is corrupt’ and then the whole ANC will be wiped out, really? Do we want that?” she said.
Ntuli said he had complied with Magashule’s request by sending the names of everyone with a dark cloud over their heads. He said he did this after obtaining an explanation from Magashule. “The SG said the step-aside decision remains the same but conference resolutions broadly talk about people who are implicated too, so he wants to have a full view of how this situation is affecting the ANC across the country. Not because his intention was that all of those comrades must then be asked to step aside. I was then able to then send a list.”
Eastern Cape provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukaitobi said he ignored Magashule’s request and sent only the names of those who have been charged. “The province is clear that we stick to the national executive committee resolutions and not only the resolutions, the resolutions of the NEC based on the constitution rule 25.7.0, based on the guidelines adopted by the NEC. Those are the basis on which we have acted,” said Ngcukaitobi. —