An organisation that will contest the ANC is being set up in Ace Magashule's office, according to the party's Eastern Cape secretary.
Supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa have started hitting back against the party's so-called "radical economic transformation" (RET) faction, which has been supporting ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Some ANC leaders have spoken out against Magashule and his RET faction, ahead of a scheduled national executive committee (NEC) meeting this weekend. The NEC will again attempt to enforce a resolution that leaders charged with corruption should step aside.
Magashule, who was charged with corruption last year and is out on R200 000 bail, has refused to heed the resolution.
ANC Eastern Cape secretary, Lulama Ngcukayitobi, told a briefing on Tuesday "the ANC should be alive to the risk of keeping certain individuals working in the offices of the SG (secretary-general) and pronouncing themselves outside the ANC pronouncements".
The RET grouping is, in the main, led by Carl Niehaus, who works in Magashule's office.
Ngcukayitobi said "that RET thing that is found on the sixth floor of [the ANC's headquarters called] Luthuli House" was "nothing of a tendency or a faction", but it is "an organisation that will contest the ANC".
He said it was similar to splinters, like Cope and the EFF, which was formed "in the belly of the African National Congress".
Media Briefing on the outcomes of the ANC EC virtual PEC meeting that took place two days ago, is still underway. @MYANC@LulamaNgcuka @BapsMhlaba @pearlido @mdantsanekas@Jamilogy@AthiGelebahttps://t.co/IKc0tot338 pic.twitter.com/6PmaiIYoT8
— ANC Eastern Cape (@ANCECape) March 23, 2021
The group has held press conferences and has set up structures to oppose Ramaphosa, while continuing to use the ANC's colours.
Ngcukayitobi said: "Those who benefitted from the capture and corruption will do whatever it takes to fight back."
Another ANC NEC member opposed to Magashule, Joel Netshitenzhe, in a Daily Maverick opinion piece on Tuesday, warned that Magashule's RET faction would continue its fight.
Expressing his support for the new civil society initiative, Defend Our Democracy, which was launched by struggle stalwarts last week, Netshitenzhe wrote that South Africans should not allow the constitutional order to be subverted.
He warned that corruption-accused Magashule was regularly distorting the decisions of the NEC; for example, when he refused to step down, arguing that the committee had taken no decision on the matter because it "still had to go to the branches".
Netshitenzhe wrote: "And so, a trend is emerging where the secretary-general of the ANC is starting to stick out like a sore thumb among his peers and across the movement. This seems to form part of a wider campaign to undermine the structures of the ANC."
He asked whether these developments reflected "the counter-revolutionary infestation" that the party's 2017 Nasrec conference warned about – but then added that he would "be generous and characterise it merely as the consolidation of a faction within the ANC".
Netshitenzhe wrote: 'The so-called radical economic transformation faction has announced that it is holding meetings; and one of its leaders, incidentally, working in the secretary-general's office, has released a "basic document" that calls for "a return of the ANC to its socialist ideological orientation", whatever this means, under current global and domestic conditions.'
Netshitenzhe likened the RET group to the Pan-Africanist Congress split from the ANC in 1958, or the Group of 8 in the 1970s, saying it would ultimately lead to rupture.
He warned that things could be more serious than his interpretation of such a rupture.
"Conspiracy theories abound, with reports of units trained in sabotage and assassination, and strange coincidences, such as the attempt to incite violence against foreigners in KwaZulu-Natal by elements of the very same private militia, and the fire in Parliament after the vote on the Public Protector," he wrote.
"Some of these theories may be without basis. But it cannot be ruled out that South Africa's own Savimbis and Dhlakamas, who destabilised Angola and Mozambique with the support of the erstwhile SA Defence Force and its Military Intelligence, are crawling out of the woodwork and showing their true colours."
He warned that South Africans and ANC members should not allow "the advances since 2017 to be squandered, and for the constitutional order to be subverted".
He received support from other NEC members, like Derek Hanekom, on Twitter, who said he hoped Magashule "reads it and reflects on it".
SA Communist Party first deputy secretary-general Solly Mapaila told Stephen Grootes on SAFM's AM Live that the blame was not just on Magashule, but on the ANC's entire NEC for failing to act against him.
Niehaus reacted with fury on Twitter to Netshitenzhe's piece, alleging that he (Netshitenzhe) had ulterior motives for criticising Magashule.
Hmmm, so #JoelNetshitenze is spitting fire against the #SG of @MYANC, comrade @Magashule_Ace? We must be very careful of those who scream from the mountain tops when attacking their own but are never heard when their white employers and masters buy votes & steal from the country.
— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) March 23, 2021