Sunday Times

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

Mdumiseni Ntuli

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. —

 ??  ?? ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
 ?? Picture: Musa Masilela ?? ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule visited former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla this week as he lobbied for support on the step-aside issue.
Picture: Musa Masilela ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule visited former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla this week as he lobbied for support on the step-aside issue.
 ??  ?? ANC chair Gwede Mantashe invoked the Old Testament on the Magashule matter.
ANC chair Gwede Mantashe invoked the Old Testament on the Magashule matter.

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