After a week of denials, clarifications, half denials and threats, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule will get his chance tomorrow to tell ANC top brass about his controversial meeting with former president Jacob Zuma.
Magashule has already spoken to ANC officials about the meeting, but they remain unconvinced. At a meeting of the “top six” on Monday, Magashule was told to explain himself in the media in the wake of the Sunday Times’s disclosure of his “secret” meeting last week.
Tomorrow, Magashule is due to attend a meeting of the ANC’s national working committee (NWC), where he will be asked to explain himself — again. The matter is also expected to be discussed at the party’s national executive committee meeting on September 28.
Sources said a plan to dislodge President Cyril Ramaphosa and to overturn the ANC’s Nasrec outcome had been discussed at the “secret” meetings.
Magashule told the top six meeting in Cape Town that he met Zuma to discuss uniting the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, and to resolve an impasse in the Moses Mabhida region. He is said to have told ANC leaders, including Ramaphosa, that it was a coincidence that other ANC leaders were at the hotel when he met Zuma.
A number of ANC NWC members told the Sunday Times that the version Magashule gave the top six was contradicted by that of party leaders who attended the meeting last Thursday at the Maharani hotel on Durban’s beachfront, and another meeting the day before at the Beverly Hills hotel in Umhlanga Rocks.
This comes as more details of the meetings emerge, showing the camp that backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s failed presidential bid has regrouped and is plotting to unseat Ramaphosa.
Today the Sunday Times can reveal, based on interviews with some of those who attended the meetings, that Magashule’s meeting with Zuma was attended by more than the four people named in the exposé last week, with lobbyists from the Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo also present.
Last week the Sunday Times reported that former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, ANC Women’s League secretary-general Meokgo Matuba and KwaZulu-Natal ANC Youth League secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo were at the Maharani meeting with Magashule and Zuma. It has now emerged that former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni and controversial ANC Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa were also part of that meeting, as were a group of leaders from the Free State, including provincial secretary Paseka Nompondo.
ANC Free State spokesperson Thabo Meeko said it was not a crime for provincial ANC leaders to meet “wherever they like to meet”.
He added: “There is nothing wrong with meeting the SG … Whether it is at Luthuli House or anywhere else … It is not our interest whether they met at the garage or at Woolworths or even at a club in Sandton.”
Lungisa declined to comment. Myeni did not respond to requests for comment.
These ANC members and leaders were part of the anti-Ramaphosa faction ahead of the party’s elective conference in Nasrec.
Insiders who attended the meetings said the Maharani group that met with Zuma to update him on the fightback plan were part of a bigger group that had met the day before at the Beverly Hills to discuss the plan.
In addition to challenging the Nasrec outcome, the group discussed how they could populate the ANC’s lists for seats in parliament and provincial legislatures with members who were opposed to Ramaphosa. They endorsed Sabelo as their preferred candidate for the presidency of the youth league, which goes to its conference next month. Sabelo has denied attending either of the two meetings.
NWC member Senzo Mchunu said tomorrow’s NWC meeting was the right platform to deal with the matter. ANC Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala said despite Magashule’s admission that he met with Zuma, the veterans still wanted to know why such a meeting took place.
“We, as the veterans league, request that the top six definitely give us information about
what transpired in that meeting, what was the purpose, which is very important for us to know because we cannot allow people getting involved in clandestine issues of toppling our elected leadership, that should … not be allowed,” Zikalala said.
Magashule faced the wrath of the top six when he obfuscated and downplayed the meeting with Zuma at the Maharani and insisted that he met Zuma, alone, to discuss organisational issues.
When questioned about his meeting at the Beverly Hills hotel, Magashule said he met with Myeni because she had sent him a number of text messages asking to meet.
Youth league president Collen Maine, who sits on the NWC, said he was looking forward to being briefed on Magashule’s explanation. “I don’t want to believe that the secretary-general of the ANC — by that I’m not [referring to] Ace Magashule — can be involved in plot to remove a president who has been elected. If that has happened, because indeed there was a meeting at the Maharani hotel as [Magashule] has confirmed, then it will be very unfortunate.”
Subsequent to the top six meeting, Magashule told the Sunday Times that he disclosed everything to his colleagues and does not “account to the media” — adding that he may meet whoever he likes.
But those who were present said Magashule did not fully disclose the details of the meetings. An unrepentant leader who attended both Durban meetings — and who asked not to be named — confirmed that the meeting with Zuma was to report back to him on the previous day’s discussions.
“We are not happy with [the] factional conduct by the other side, which is relentlessly pursuing our forces,” said the leader.
Another anti-Ramaphosa leader said: “We have to do something. We are under siege. Every second week the president signs a proclamation giving the SIU (Special Investigating Unit) powers to investigate something. And all those that are being investigated are people who opposed his election. So the list process is our last chance. He will still be president, but if we populate the list with our people, we will use parliament to frustrate him.”
A provincial leader loyal to Ramaphosa said he alerted Luthuli House when he started getting live updates on people entering the Maharani last Thursday.
He said the pro-Ramaphosa camp was aware of the strategy to use the office of the secretary-general to manipulate the list process in order to get Dlamini-Zuma supporters to dominate the party’s electoral lists.