THE ANC has shelved plans to hold a retreat to deal with factional battles within its party to allow its top leadership to focus on the court battle lodged against it by its suspended secretary general Ace Magashule. Picture: Chris Collingridge / African News Agency / ANA
THE ANC has shelved plans to hold a retreat to deal with factional battles within its party to allow its top leadership to focus on the court battle lodged against it by its suspended secretary general Ace Magashule. Picture: Chris Collingridge / African News Agency / ANA

ANC shelves plans to deal with factionalism to concentrate on Ace Magashule court battle

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published May 20, 2021

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Johannesburg - THE ANC has shelved plans to hold a retreat to deal with factional battles within its party to allow its top leadership to focus on the court battle lodged against it by its suspended secretary general Ace Magashule.

Magashule filed court papers in the South Gauteng High Court last week, challenging his suspension from the party after he was served with criminal charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in November last year.

The decision to place Magashule on suspension came after the top leadership agreed that all those facing criminal charges should step aside but the decision left Magashule and others aggrieved.

While the party was planning on holding a retreat to deal with factions, Magashule served them with court papers challenging his suspension on May 13.

The court papers were served while the ANC was due to announce the date for the retreat after concerns were raised at its national executive committee meeting that the party was plagued by deep seated divisions which have the potential to collapse the 108-year old liberation movement – the oldest movement in Africa.

These concerns were raised by Limpopo Premier and NEC member Stan Mathabatha about the alleged existence of three factions within the ANC – one of them apparently thriving on abusing its relationship using the name of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mathabatha’s comments were captured in audio clippings leaked to the media while the party was battling internal factional fights.

While the nation only knew about the CR-17 faction linked to Ramaphosa and Magashule’s faction, previously known as the NDZ faction, Mathabatha told the NEC meeting about the existence of a third faction with ulterior motives. According to Mathabatha, the third faction was allegedly sowing divisions within party structures and allegedly abusing Ramaphosa’s name by allegedly making party pronouncements without Ramaphosa’s knowledge.

“We have a good President but some of our members are abusing his name,” Mathabatha said. His comments captured the attention of ANC former president Thabo Mbeki, who urged his fellow NEC members to take the Premier’s comments to heart. Mbeki also urged his party’s members to consider whether the ANC was about to collapse due to its factional battles.

After the meeting, Ramaphosa announced on May 10 that his party had agreed to a retreat to build unity within it.

“In the spirit of criticism and self-criticism, we reflected on the way we work and on our conduct as NEC members. We agreed to adhere to organisational protocols and practices, including collective leadership, the promotion of unity and renewal, and strict adherence to the ANC’s communications protocol.

“We have agreed to hold a retreat as soon as conditions permit to address varying perspectives among the leadership and develop a practical action plan to strengthen the process of unity and renewal,” Ramaphosa said.

He said members of the NEC had expressed concern about a concerted and well-resourced campaign to sow division and confusion in the ANC, with the ultimate aim to destroy the movement as an instrument for progressive transformation and change.

“It noted that this campaign is actively aided by a few individuals from within the NEC, through leaks, deviant public pronouncements, protests and misinformation on social media. “The NEC agreed to take urgent steps to investigate the leaks from the NEC and any organised campaign to subvert the movement and to take appropriate action,” Ramaphosa said.

Insiders told Independent Media that the retreat has been put on hold to allow the party to deal with those opposed to the step aside rule. “It is anticipated that more people will challenge the step aside in courts like comrade Ace Magashule,” one of the sources said.

ANC acting secretary general Jessie Duarte confirmed the decision but said her party has yet to make a decision on the date.

The ANC was due to file answering papers to Magashule’s court application in the South Gauteng High Court yesterday.

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