The Mercury

How can the ANC govern amid chaos?


THE battles lines are drawn, the gloves are off as the ANC factions square up against each other in the open. After the NEC meeting last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa temporaril­y suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and then, in a surprise move, the secretary-general unilateral­ly suspended the president from the ANC. It was a tit-for-tat move: you suspend me, I’ll suspend you.

The ANC had a problem. Magashule was as defiant as ever. He wasn’t going to meekly accept the suspension notice. He was prepared to fight it out to the bitter end.

This defiant stance from Magashule forced the NEC to convene another meeting over the weekend to deal with its recalcitra­nt secretary-general.

On Monday evening, Ramaphosa delivered the NEC’s verdict that Magashule’s conduct was “completely unacceptab­le and a flagrant violation of the rules, norms and values of the ANC” and that it had given him an ultimatum to make a public apology to the president and also to the ANC structures, failing which disciplina­ry procedures would be instituted against him in accordance with its constituti­on. Several conditions were also attached to his suspension, namely that he cannot gain access to his office, cannot represent the ANC and make any public statements on behalf of the party.

The NEC has thrown down the gauntlet. It’s Ramaphosa versus Magashule. It’s going to be a long, bloody conflict which would leave the party wounded and only deepen the divisions between the Ramaphosa and Zuma camps. Such was the critical state of the ANC it prompted former president Thabo Mbeki to ask the NEC if the ANC still existed.

From what we can gather from Magashule’s defiant attitude, it seems that he is unlikely to submit readily to the NEC’s ruling against him.

In this open conflict between the president and the secretary-general, at least one positive outcome emerges: the NEC has rallied around the president and presented a united front in its fight against corruption. But there is a serious flip side to all of this. The factionali­sm that is tearing the ANC apart is not only bad for the party but also not good for the country.

At the moment the ANC is a crippled organisati­on and cannot govern the country effectivel­y. So much time is spent attending to internal disputes that it has no time to address the country’s pressing issues.

Two weekends were spent on resolving its internal problems. If the ANC cannot put its own house in order, how can it govern effectivel­y?


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