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ANC Step aside rule tearing party apart as deadline looms

By Sihle Mavuso

The internal ructions currently tearing apart the ruling party are not abating and they are worsening as the April 30 deadline for members who have been criminally charged to step aside, looms.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

With each day coming with new twists and turns, the extent of internal fights are laid bare.

On Monday a letter from the party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule warning members to stop abusing their powers, laid bare another layer of the fights.

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In the letter sent to provincial secretaries, regional secretaries and branches on Wednesday last week, Magashule directed that all structures in office should remain until further notice.

His reminder came amid reports that some provinces are disbanding lower structures, arguing that their term of office had expired.

This is in conflict with a resolution by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) last year that, because of Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings, all structures in office should stay put.

“We wish to remind you once more about the decisions of the previous NECs from 2018 to date that no structures must be disbanded or dissolved,” Magashule said in the letter.

On Tuesday another letter from Magashule emerged.

This time around Magashule asked the party’s nine provincial secretaries, to finalise the list of members who have to step aside. However, Magashule’s letter appeared to have widened the scope of the members who have to step aside as he said should include even those who have been implicated or alleged to be involved in wrongdoing but not yet charged.

This is in contrast to the resolution which was read out at the end of the last ANC national executive committee meeting on March 29.

“Provinces are requested to submit, by Thursday, 15 April 2021 at 17h00, the names of those members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes and those who are alleged, reported or implicated in corrupt practices. Provinces must provide details of whether affected comrades have been informed personally, in writing,” Magashule wrote to the secretaries.

The NEC statement which was read out by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, said only those charged with serious criminal offences should step aside.

However, the resolution left a loophole for provincial chairmen and secretaries to change it as it said they should meet and refine the guidelines with Magashule’s office.

Magashule’s directive caused confusion as some provinces wanted clarification regarding the widened scope.

It was only after on Thursday that the party’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte rebuked Magashule for unilaterally amending the scope.

Duarte said the top six have held no discussions with the party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule nor did he consult them on the letter he issued to the party’s nine provincial secretaries.

As the ANC’s shenanigans continued to play out this week, not even regions could forge unity. On Thursday Ramaphosa visited Hammarsdale in Durban to campaign for a by-election.

With two factions at each other’s throat in the party’s biggest region nationwide, divisions were witnessed when a faction loyal to former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, deviated from the party’s slogan and publicly and in Ramaphosa’s presence, highlighted their preference of Gumede. IOL