Magashule “shocked, dismayed” Ramaphosa


SHOCK and dismay, that is how ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa described his reception of the letter from ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in which he attempted to suspend him.

Ramaphosa described his reception to the ANC Parliamentary caucus in Cape Town. Caucus sources said ANC president disclosed that he had received Magashule letter on Wednesday night and would leave it to be handled by the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), which meets this weekend.

ANC sources said the ANC may be asked to consider charging Magashule with serious misconduct, following his attempt to suspend Ramaphosa.

In an afternoon of high drama and a night of long knives, Magashule was suspended because he is facing criminal charges. He in turn issued a statement saying he had appealed the suspension and said he had “suspended” Ramaphosa. 

In a dramatic twist towards the end of the night, ANC national chairman Gwede Mantashe poured cold water on Magashule’s dramatic antics, declaring that the letter purporting to suspend Ramaphosa had no consequence.

“Decisions in the ANC are taken by structures and not individuals,” Mantashe told the TimesLIVE. “[The intention] is to cause confusion and he [Magashule] is doing someone’s bidding,’ said Mantashe.

Mantashe said: “You can’t take decisions on you own in an organisation. It has no consequence. You can’t as an individual write a letter suspending another letter. It means I can also write a letter to somebody else to suspend him. There is no organisation that operates in such a manner.

“Have you ever been a member of a church choir or a football club? In any organisation whether a church choir or a football club or anything else decisions are taken in a structure, there’s no individual who is more powerful than the structures of the organisation.  Yesterday there was an NWC meeting, you can’t walk out of that NWC without having raised any issue and come out and write letters. That letter is not worth the paper it is written on. It’s of no consequence .”

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The tit-for-tat exchange at the highest level of one of the oldest political parties in South Africa has deepened divisions within it.

In a statement, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the organisation had noted Magashule’s letter to Ramaphosa. Mabe said: “The decisions of the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee stand. The NEC will be meeting over the weekend and will accordingly respond to the Secretary General. The ANC request that the Secretary General respect the decisions of the NEC and subject himself to the discipline of the organization.”

In his letter to Ramaphosa, Magashule said it was common cause that the matter relating moneys raised for his election campaign to be president of the ANC, commonly referred to as the CR17 campaign, was before the courts. Although there is no criminal case pending against Ramaphosa, Magashule is using the courts case seeking to unseal the CR17 records as a basis for the suspension.

Magashule wrote: “You have been referred to the Serious Offences Directorate and the matter of sealed documents relating to your CR17 campaign prior and during the 54th National Conference is pending before our courts. On 3 May 2021, the NWC (national working committee), acting in terms of Rule 25, 70, read with Rule 3 instructed the letters of suspension be written to all affected members, including yourself, to inform them that it has been decided that their temporary suspension would be in the best interests of the organisation. 

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“According to Resolution (8) of the 4th National Conference, secretaries at all levels will be held accountable for any failure to take action or refer matters of corruption or other misconduct (in terms of the ANC Code of Conduct) to the relevant structures. As stated above, it has been reported, Cde President, that you and your Nasrec campaign team raised money in an attempt to get the branches to finally elect you as President of the ANC. It is common cause that this matter has been ventilated in our courts and the documents related thereto remain sealed. This particular matter relating to the sealing of the documents is pending before our courts. Cde President you will recall that quite apart from this matter being reported to our law enforcement  agencies, the ANC has lamented the use and role of money in its internal election conferences.”

Earlier, Magashule rejected the suspension letter from his deputy Jessie Duarte and said he would appeal it. He said his intention to appeal meant that his position within the ANC remained unchanged.

Magashule, a powerful figure within the ANC, was served with a letter of suspension, signed by Duarte. The suspension is expected to worsen division within an already split ANC, where some members support Magashule and former ANC president Jacob Zuma and others support current ANC president and head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa.

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In terms of the letter, Magashule is temporarily suspended from:

  • Carrying out his responsibility as secretary-general.
  • Representing the ANC publicly or in any other forum.
  • Making public pronouncement on matters related to the ANC.
  • Engaging in the mobilisation of ANC structures or any other organisation or individuals on the step aside rule or matters related to it.

“During the period that you, as a full time office bearer employed by the organisation, are temporarily suspended, you will be entitled to remuneration and other benefits in line with your conditions of employment,” Duarte wrote.

She said Magashule is required to update the office of the secretary-general of the ANC on a monthly basis regarding progress with his criminal case. Magashule faces corruption charges and is out on bail of R200 000. Duarte said Magashule’s temporary suspension will be reviewed by the national executive committee every six months and from time to time, “at your request”.

Magashule’s suspension follows an announcement by the ANC national working committee that it has reaffirmed that all members charged with corruption or other serious crimes must vacate their posts within 30 days or face suspension.

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