The Star Early Edition
RAMAPHOSA STAMPS HIS AUTHORITY
LAST week, a picture popped up on social media of suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, seated and allegedly playing a game of chess.
That picture was supposed to convey a message to his supporters that, like former president Jacob Zuma (a known chess player), his moves were carefully calculated and strategic.
But instead, Magashule’s play was ridiculed by chess know-it-alls and none other than Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov for being a “photo-op” move. Facing criminal charges over the R255 million Free State government asbestos roof tender, which happened while he was the province’s premier, Magashule was forced to “step aside” in terms of the ANC’s 54th conference resolutions.
The “step aside” resolution, adopted at the ANC’s Nasrec conference, was so broad in its interpretation that anyone in the party could be called to “step aside”, potentially inviting legal challenges.
But ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa stuck to his guns, and instead, the ANC national executive clarified the resolution, clearly stating that those who had been criminally charged (not accused) had to be suspended (with full pay) while they resolved their cases in court.
Magashule’s response, like that of Zuma in the past, was to obfuscate, muddy the waters and point fingers.
But the political landscape has changed significantly since Zuma’s march to power as the ANC has publicly taken a tough stance against corruption. Magashule’s flagrant disregard after he was ordered to step aside, which included a rambling interview with the SABC and letter “suspending” Ramaphosa, means that his goose is all but cooked.
He has been ordered to apologise to Ramaphosa or face the prospect of disciplinary action, which in all likelihood would finish his political career inside the ANC.
Magashule could go his own way, but he’s no Julius Malema, and his acolytes inside the ANC fear the prospect of losing the patronage the party so generously dispenses to disciplined cadres.
In a few moves and displaying patience with his opponents inside the ANC, Ramaphosa has stamped his authority on the party.