ANC deputy secretary-general (SG) Jessie Duarte said that the governing party needed to speak with one voice and that factionalism would not be tolerated. Duarte was delivering the outcome of the party’s three-day national executive committee (NEC) meeting, that saw secretary-general Ace Magashule suspended.
She said that the step-aside rule was not aimed at Magashule, but all those facing charges. “It was never only about him. There are many others in provinces and another NEC member who will be temporarily suspended.”
Magashule was suspended after being charged in connection with an asbestos roofing contract in the Free State. His suspension has led to factions rising in defiance to support him.
Duarte said that the NEC condemned factionalism and the groups that were causing a division in the party. She singled out one faction for sowing division.
“We express concern about a concerted and well-resourced campaign to sow division and confusion in the ANC and, in this regard, we’re referring very specifically to General [Mojo] Motau and RET [radical economic transformation] forces, which is just a faction raising its head in the ANC throughout the country.”
Motau had assembled Umkhonto weSizwe veterans who called for the entire NEC to resign.
“None of us in this ANC acts on our own. We take our mandate from the national working committee, the NEC of the ANC, so none of us can act independently,” she said.
Duarte explained that Magashule’s suspension was temporary. However, she would be carrying out his duties while he was suspended. She reiterated that she was still the deputy secretary-general and was not in any way taking Magashule’s position while he served his suspension.
Duarte said she felt she had to make it clear because of a “disempowering” narrative that she was taking over.
“I want to make it very clear: I am not the secretary-general of the ANC, nor am I the acting secretary-general of the ANC. I am the deputy secretary-general of the ANC, carrying out the functions as prescribed in rule 16.9 of the clause of the ANC constitution. The SG is temporarily suspended until the matter of his court case comes to finality. I hope we all understand that.”
She said Magashule’s issuing of a letter of suspension to the president was unacceptable. “We have been instructed to request the SG to apologise publicly to ANC structures and members by the end of the week. We’re confident the SG will rise to the occasion and that he will follow the dictates of the ANC.”
Duarte said Magashule’s letter caused a division and many people called to ask if the president was still in office, following the letter that had circulated on social media last week.
Duarte said Magashule’s suspension would be “reviewed from time to time” and that the length of it was subject to the court case he faced.
On Monday, party president Cyril Ramaphosa said the NEC had instructed the suspended Magashule to apologise publicly to ANC structures for the suspension letter Magashule had addressed to Ramaphosa the previous week.
“If Magashule fails to apologise timeously, he could face further censure by the party’s disciplinary structure,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the NEC noted that Magashule had no power or mandate from the party’s highest decision-making body to pen such a letter, and made it clear that Magashule remained suspended from the party while his Free State asbestos audit corruption case was being heard in court.