The Citizen (Gauteng)

There’s no place for Ace

Ace Magashule’s action was not only nonsensica­l in law, but also had no legal standing in the ANC constituti­on.

- Eric Naki

The “suspension” of President Cyril Ramaphosa by a fellow party official exposed how ANC leaders are not on the same level when it comes to understand­ing the culture and tradition of the party. It also revealed that the culture of the former liberation movement was shifting as a result of conditions ushered in by the democratic order we are in. The ANC is not the same anymore and more than step-aside resolution­s and suspension­s were needed to restore it to its former glory.

As things now stand, it’s a free-for-all where members misbehave with impunity because the governing party never pre-empted the dynamics that come with being in government.

The ANC constituti­on would have been laughable had its secretary-general (SG) had the power to suspend the president or any office-bearer who was not his subordinat­e. The mere thought of Alfred Nzo suspending Oliver Tambo or Nelson Mandela is ridiculous.

When the ANC assumed power in 1994, its president became the boss with influence spreading beyond the party confines. Being the president of the governing party and the country gave him enormous power over the SG, whose influence was limited to party structures.

Even as the political boss, however, the president cannot individual­ly suspend or fire the SG or any official because the ANC operates on the basis of a “collective” – a consultati­on and consensus decision-making process.

Ace Magashule’s action was not only nonsensica­l in law, but also had no legal standing in the ANC constituti­on.

Suppose the president of South Africa was successful­ly suspended by Magashule. The next would be for him to vacate the Union Buildings and his entire government collapsing because the ANC does not tolerate two centre of power – one president at Union Buildings and another at Luthuli House.

Elections would have been called and a new government establishe­d. This would have sent the markets ballistic, the local currency exchange rate plummeting, investors panicking and even some countries recalling their ambassador­s due to prevailing political uncertaint­y. The impact to the economy would have been too ghastly to contemplat­e.

Worse still, with Magashule at the helm, the prospects of the return of the Zuma era under the “radical economic transforma­tion” banner would have caused national uneasiness. A Magashule-led presidency would have turned the 2016/17 #ZumaMustFa­ll campaign into a Sunday school picnic.

Those yearning for Zuma’s second coming deliberate­ly forget his history. The 57% the ANC received in the 2019 election was not a no-confidence vote in Ramaphosa, but a backlash against the corruption and state capture that thrived during the “nine wasted years”.

In fact, Ramaphosa was a messiah who came to rescue a party that was fast exiting the political scene. The ANC itself expected to lose in 2019, hence the Economic Freedom Fighters was identified as a potential coalition partner to keep them in power.

The ANC top brass, in their wisdom, decided to be lenient towards Magashule. Knowing that the step-aside decision would adversely affect him, the national executive committee extended the cut off for indicted members to step aside from seven to 30 days.

They offered him another lifeline – requiring him to just apologise for the embarrassi­ng Ramaphosa letter.

It is leaders like him that the ANC must get rid of if it is to be clean and attractive to voters.

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