Durban — A president Cyril Ramaphosa-aligned faction in the ANC’s national disciplinary committee was said to be forging ahead with the expulsion of its suspended secretary-general, Ace Magashule.
The Daily News understands a letter from the party’s disciplinary committee asking Magashule to state why he should not be dismissed had been sent to his legal representatives.
One of Magashule’s backers – and Ramaphosa’s fiercest critic – Carl Niehaus said the letter was sent by national disciplinary committee chairperson, Ralph Mgijima, after Magashule missed the disciplinary hearing last Monday.
Niehaus said Magashule had told the committee chairperson that he was not available to attend his hearing, but Mgijima refused to postpone it, saying the hearing would continue in his absence.
Niehaus said it was strange Ramaphosa’s faction wants Magashule to be fired but said nothing about Ramaphosa for bringing the party into disrepute for “stashes” of foreign currency at his farm which were not registered with the SA Reserve Bank.
Attempts to get the ANC or disciplinary committee to comment on the matter were unsuccessful. Both ANC general manager Febe Potgieter and spokesperson Pule Mabe had not responded to the questions sent to them.
Magashule’s attorney Mathews Phosa, who is the former ANC treasurer-general, confirmed the disciplinary committee wanted his client at the hearing on Monday, but he could not attend.
Phosa said he was not aware of the letter requesting Magashule to state the reasons why he should not be expelled.
Magashule was suspended by the party in May last year after refusing to voluntarily step aside following his arrest in relation to the asbestos tender while he was Free State premier.
One of his main charges was the letter he sent to Ramaphosa suspending him from the party “for buying the 2017” conference.
Sources who spoke to the Daily News said the embattled Ramaphosa faction was fighting tooth and nail to have the suspended secretary-general kicked out of the party before the elective conference in December.
One source said the Ramaphosa faction feared his influence and believed he may sway things against him at the conference, so he should be fired before the conference.
Others said this was because of the controversy around the party’s step-aside rule which was likely to be scrapped after the elective conference, so even if he was no longer a secretary-general he would make Ramaphosa’s second term miserable.
Magashule has been fighting for his political survival. He was hoping the party policy conference would scrap the step-aside rule, but instead, the controversial policy was strengthened. In one of his affidavits in court he said his arrest was a ploy to prevent him from contesting Ramaphosa for the party’s president position at the 55th conference. In his closing address to the NEC meeting, the president did not say anything about Phala Phala which many were waiting to hear.
The president instead dealt with organisational renewal, saying the renewal committee had submitted its report. The president also hinted at the party’s constitutional amendments.
On government issues, the president announced the NEC had agreed to extend the R350 social relief grants to March 2024. The grant had recently been extended to March 2023.
On electoral amendments, he said the party supported the proportional representation system.
He also touched on the thorny issue of scrapping broad-based black empowerment in the Treasury which irked black businesses. The president said the party sub-committee would have a series of engagements with black businesses.
In another political development, one of the candidates for the secretary-general position, former KwaZulu-Natal secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli, said he was prepared to work with Dr Zweli Mkhize if they both got elected.
Mkhize is vying for the presidential position and both are from the province. Ntuli’s gesture was construed as courting Mkhize’s supporters to also back him instead of former Eastern Cape provincial chairperson Phumulo Masualle who was endorsed by the provincial leadership alongside Mkhize.
Branch nominations results would be formally announced by electoral commission chairperson Kgalema Motlanthe, but some branches were said to have paired Mkhize with Ntuli.
Rumours are branches felt it was risky “betting on one horse” and some want to vote for Mkhize and Ntuli to ensure the province at least gets representation in the top six positions.