Magashule defends RET, Ramaphosa calls for unity
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Pretoria - ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his rival President Cyril Ramaphosa have used the commemoration of Struggle stalwart Charlotte Maxeke to escalate their fight for the soul of the organisation and the country.
Magashule has again strongly defended the policy of radical economic transformation (RET), saying the economy needed to be in the hands of African people, and “that dream should be realised today and not tomorrow”.
He was addressing a congregation during the wreath-laying ceremony for Maxeke in Kliptown, Johannesburg, yesterday.
Maxeke would have celebrated her 150th birthday yesterday and in commemoration of the pioneering woman, the ANC has declared 2021 the “Year of Unity, Renewal and Reconstruction in the Year of Charlotte Maxeke”.
Magashule led the celebrations in Gauteng while Ramaphosa was in Maxeke’s birthplace of Alice in the Eastern Cape where he preached unity.
Deputy President David Mabuza attended celebrations in Limpopo while ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile was in KwaZulu-Natal.
After visiting Maxeke’s home in Kliptown, Magashule addressed a congregation at the Nancefield Cemetery where Maxeke was buried in 1939.
It was here that Magashule – who has been ordered by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) to step aside from his position at the end of this month – called on the ANC Women’s League and religious leaders to play a role in RET.
“South Africa must turn for the best and the women leadership of this country – the Women’s League – can play that important role to change the lives of our people. The leadership of the church can still play that role in ensuring that our people are now living in a better South Africa,” he said.
Magashule said the dream that Nelson Mandela and Maxeke had for South Africa was to ensure that everyone was out of abject poverty.
“That dream must be realised and it cannot take many years. It must be a dream that is realised today and not tomorrow,” he said.
Magashule’s comments come in the wake of the ANC NEC’s decision that any member facing serious fraud and corruption charges or allegations must step aside by the end of April or face disciplinary action.
This was a resolution taken in 2017 during the party’s national conference at Nasrec, but only recently implemented.
Magashule and 15 co-accused have been charged with 74 charges of fraud, money-laundering and corruption in connection with an asbestosis case during his tenure as Free State premier. They are expected to appear in the high court in Bloemfontein on August 11.
It’s unclear whether Magashule and other ANC leaders accused of various crimes would step aside or defy the ANC NEC.
Magashule told the media on the sidelines of the commemoration that he had not yet made up his mind about whether or not he would step aside.
He was still consulting with ANC elders, he said.
Magashule added that it was up to party branches to decide whether to defend their secretary-general or not.
He has been touted as a leading force behind the party’s RET faction which has been seen as a splinter party operating within the ANC.
During his address at Maxeke’s commemoration event, Magashule defended RET, saying it was a policy that was adopted by the party. It could not be changed and should be accepted, he said.
Addressing the gathering at Maxeke’s birthplace, Ramaphosa called for unity in the ANC.
He called on the ANC Youth League to assist in uniting the party, saying it would face deep divisions and a serious fallout at the end of the month when many members would be required to step aside or face suspension.
Addressing a congregation in Nxukhwebe in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, Ramaphosa said visiting Maxeke’s homeland “feels like I have come to the fountain of wisdom”.
He honoured Maxeke as a religious leader and a social and political activist who was the first black South African woman to graduate with a university degree with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Wilberforce University, Ohio, in 1901.
She was also the first black African woman to graduate from an American university.
Celebrations around Maxeke’s life come at a time when there are deep divisions within the ANC, with allegations of a splinter party called the RET faction emerging.
The ruling party recently took a tough stance against corruption among its members by activating a resolution that any member facing serious crimes and corruption charges or allegations must step aside from their positions or face suspension.
“If we don’t unite, we are going to fall,” Ramaphosa said. “The Youth League will work with us to make sure we unite the ANC. There is no other way but to unite the ANC, otherwise the ANC will continue to fall apart,” he said.
“We must address the issue of corruption within the ANC so that our people can regain their confidence in the ANC.
“I can see that nearly all of you love the ANC, but you will love the ANC more if you see the ANC acting against corruption and those who participate in corruption,” he said, to applause from those at the gathering.