Free State ANC rejects claims of disunity

2017-03-02 13:10
Ace Magashule (File, Volksblad)

Ace Magashule (File, Volksblad)

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Johannesburg - African National Congress Free State secretary William Bulwane has defended provincial chair Ace Magashule against claims that he failed to unite the province.

"There is maximum unity here in the Free State. We are working as a team under the leadership of our chair," he said.

This was as former ANC provincial treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana told News24 the province was "ruled by fear".

Dukwana was one of the masterminds behind efforts in 2012 to unseat Magashule. He said this week he was one of many people discussing ways to remove Magashule and unite the province.

Last week, News24 reported that the chair of the ANC, also referred to as a "life time chair" in some circles due to his lengthy stay in the position, was facing a revolt.

'Negative tendencies'

Magashule also serves as the Free State premier. He had been described by some as one of the front runners for a top six position in the ANC, at the party's 54th national conference in December.

"Ace does not have the birthright of being the sole chair of the ANC in the Free State," Dukwana said.

He said the province had created a monster in Magashule. He ruled with fear while preaching unity.

Dukwana said he was concerned the upcoming provincial congress would be marred by gatekeeping and the manipulation of processes.

Last week a regional leader, who did not want to be named, told News24 that the goal was to cleanse the ANC in the province of Magashule's "negative tendencies".

Free State ANC spokesperson Thabo Meeko criticised the media for being part of a "co-ordinated campaign to discredit leaders of the ANC using faceless sources".

"The media has resorted to sensationalism as opposed to the facts and accuracy in the reportage, to give credence to baseless allegations of divisions amongst ANC leadership in the Free State," Meeko said in a statement.

Court battles

Bulwane said: "I don't dispute that there might be individuals who might not be satisfied and would act as if the whole Free State is divided."

He said Dukwana was angry because Magashule removed him as a member of his mayoral committee.

"This thing is no more than political. It's a grudge, I won't entertain it," Bulwane said.

Some of the disgruntled leaders had told News24 they were willing to entangle the province in court battles if needs be.

Dukwana said the ANC in the province was a reflection of a powerless Bulwane.

Bulwane retorted: "Dukwana is like an old army commander who has lost his soldiers in the bush."

He said the former ANC provincial leader had lost touch with structures.

Some of the regional leaders News24 spoke to believed Bulwane was on his way out. Magashule rarely retained his deputies and secretaries, they said.

"I am not worried when they say I must go. I must give others a chance," said Bulwane.

A video recently emerged of Magashule telling people to vote for ANC Mpumalanga chairperson David Mabuza to become ANC deputy president. He was speaking to mourners at the funeral of Mabuza's brother.

Meeko claimed Magashule was quoted out of context.

The ANC is yet to open up its succession debate and had called on structures to refrain from talking about the matter.

Bulwane said he was waiting to speak to Magashule about the incident.

"I only read it in the media, but you know South African media likes exaggerating and won't tell you the honest story," he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  politics

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