By Prince Kurupati
In an ironic turn of events, the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was served with a suspension letter by his party, the African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Ace Magashule who surprisingly is also under a suspension. According to several reports from local media outlets in the country, President Ramaphosa was infuriated with Magashule’s actions.
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule in a letter in which he expressed his desire to appeal his suspension said that using the powers bestowed upon him as the Secretary General of the Party, he was suspending Cyril Ramaphosa who is the party President. In the letter, Magashule said that he was incorrectly suspended by his deputy Jessie Duarte and as such, his suspension was basically a nonentity.
In her statement, the deputy Secretary General of the ANC said that she was suspending Magashule for fanning factionalism in the party and also giving him much needed space to answer to allegations of corruption leveled against him.
The morning after he was served a suspension letter, Cyril Ramaphosa according to local media outlet Mail & Guardian met with the ANC’s parliamentary caucus. According to one of the attendees, “He (Ramaphosa) was shocked by the letter, but he said it has no standing in the ANC, and other NEC members also reflected that the letter would be discussed over the weekend at the national executive committee (NEC) meeting.”
Many ANC stalwarts said they were left puzzled with Magashule’s letter as he in previous national working committee (NWC) meetings never muted anything along the lines of suspending the party President. They are of the view that the suspension letter is part of Magashule’s reaction to his own suspension at the hands of his deputy.
Magashule has since defended his actions saying that he is suspending the party President for the same reasons that he is being suspended for that is, giving the party President time to answer to all corrupt allegations he is implicated in. Magashule said he was using the resolutions made during the last Congress where it was agreed that “all those who are alleged, reported and charged” for corrupt practices “must step aside.”
Several political analysts said the move by Magashule will likely lead to something more permanent either towards Magashule or Ramaphosa. Once the ANC’s national executive committee meets, they are likely going to take a more permanent solution to the squabbles between the party President and the Secretary General – the likely outcome at the moment being the removal of the Secretary General from all party structures. This necessitated by the strong support being offered to the party President including from the ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe who in a statement said, “This (ANC) is an organization. You don’t wake up angry and take a decision and communicate it. This is of no consequence because we were at the NWC yesterday, and this decision was not discussed. He makes a decision at his home alone and writes to the president. This is not how decisions are made in an organization.”
Others have however expressed concern that the squabbles may lead to the formation of strong factions in the ANC something that can ultimately lead to the disintegration of the party in the near future.
At the moment, all eyes are looking ahead to the national executive meeting which is going to be held over the weekend. ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe informed the nation about the meeting stating, “The NEC will be meeting over the weekend and will accordingly respond to the Secretary General. The ANC request(s) that the Secretary General respect the decisions of the NEC and subject himself to the discipline of the organization.”