ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has to decide whether he is going to overlook blatant mutiny by secretary-general Ace Magashule and, if he isn’t, he needs to put his foot down and set an example, say party insiders.
After openly and arrogantly defying the leadership of the ANC and “suspending” President Cyril Ramaphosa late on Wednesday night, Ace Magashule could be looking at far worse than his own suspension … he could be expelled outright from the party for serious indiscipline.
It all now depends, effectively, on whether Ramaphosa – and with him, his allies in the party’s all-powerful national executive committee (NEC) – is prepared to allow the Magashule mutiny to continue unchecked.
Some senior ANC members who spoke on condition of anonymity vowed to push for the ANC to organise a disciplinary process because Magashule defied the conditions of his suspension by communicating with journalists and the public about the party’s decision, despite the gagging order imposed on him.
His defiance came when the governing party was at the stage of cleansing itself of corruption, ill-discipline and anarchy.
An irate NEC member said while they understood “this is for the NEC to decide, I personally cannot see him escaping a disciplinary process”.
The member, who asked not to be named, declined to elaborate.
Another senior member, who also preferred to remain anonymous, said: “He knew what he was doing was wrong. He received the suspension letter but elected to defy it because he thinks he is above the ANC.
“Nobody is above the ANC, including the secretary-general, the president and all the top six officials.”
Magashule’s defiance would top the agenda at the NEC meeting scheduled from tomorrow to Monday, where a heated debate was expected.
Some believe it would be “blood on the floor” as the two ANC factions were expected to face-off over whether Magashule should be disciplined or given a chance to make up his mind.
According to the acting spokeswoman of the ANC parliamentary caucus, Nomfanelo Kota, Ramaphosa told MPs yesterday in parliament he was “dismayed” by the letter sent by Magashule suspending him (Ramaphosa).
Kota said while the president was detailing MPs for various tasks, including campaigning for the upcoming local government elections, he used the opportunity to hit back at Magashule, stating plainly he viewed his suspension as “null and void” because the letter had been sent without being discussed with other members of the top six. When looked at in terms of the history of the ANC, Magashule’s conduct compares to that of Julius Malema, expelled for making remarks which implied then-president Jacob Zuma’s leadership was similar to that of former president Thabo Mbeki.
Malema did not use any body of the party to directly attack its leadership, as Magashule did with the “suspension” of Ramaphosa.
There are some ominous signs Magashue’s allies might still rally around him.
One of them, NEC member Tony Yengeni, has made several public statements claiming Magashule was being made a scapegoat as he was suspended on the basis of allegations instead of concrete evidence.
But Ramaphosa’s allies had a different view.
They objected to Magashule’s undermining the leadership which issued the suspension order.
In no uncertain terms, Magashule told the party top brass to back off. He said they had no authority to suspend him and he remained the secretary-general and the only “boss” of the party.
This was seen as further defiance because one of the conditions of his suspension was he could not operate as secretary-general or perform the duties of his office.
His defiance was seen as playing with fire as he could be hauled before the ANC disciplinary committee and expelled for breaching his suspension conditions.
Political scientist Professor Lesiba Teffo believed the action taken to suspend Magashule and others was the right thing to do because the ANC had been promising to act against corruption among its members.
“I call it a cathartic moment, an opportunity to cleanse itself. But it will come at a cost,” Teffo said.
According to Teffo, although Magashule and others were the culprits of the moment, “none in the ANC could look at each other in the eye and say ‘I’m better than you’.”
– The Citizen