The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has instructed the party’s top six officials to advise suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule to issue a public apology for attempting to suspending president Cyril Ramaphosa last week.
During his post NEC address, Ramaphosa said: “The NEC also discussed the so-called letter of suspension written by the secretary- general to the president,” adding that Magashule had “no authority or mandate from any structure of the movement” to partake in such an undertaking.
“The NEC agreed that such conduct was completely unacceptable and a flagrant violation of the rules, the norms and the values of the ANC. The committee further instructed the officials to advise the secretary-general to apologise publicly to ANC structures and members within a set time frame. If he fails to do so the ANC will institute disciplinary procedures in accordance with the ANC constitution”.
In light of Magashule’s suspension, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has “in accordance with the ANC’s constitution” been tasked with “carrying out the factions entrusted to the secretary general by the national conference, the national general council, NEC and the national working committee (NWC).
Ramaphosa also took the opportunity to highlight concerns among NEC members regarding “attacks” that have been directed towards Duarte for executing the NEC and NWC resolution to temporarily suspend Magashule.
Since it was Duarte who wrote to Magashule instructing him of his suspension, it appears that some of his supporters have directed “threats, insults, unfounded allegations and misinformation” toward Duarte’s office and “other ANC staff members at Luthuli House”.
“We have also noted with great concern death treats made against ANC NEC coordinator Andries Nel and agreed that this should be reported to the relevant authorities,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that “the NEC reaffirms its full confidence in Duarte and supports her in carrying out the secretary-general duties as per the ANC constitution”.
Ramaphosa further revealed that “in the spirit of self criticism” the NEC also took time at the weekend to reflect “on the way we work as an organisation, as leaders in the organisation, and on our conduct as NEC members”.
He said after thorough retrospection, there was an agreement that members needed to “adhere to organisational protocols as well as practices that include collective leadership, team work, the promotion of unity and renewal and strict adherence to the ANC’s communications protocol”.
According to the tired looking Ramaphosa, NEC members also committed to “holding a retreat as soon as conditions permit to address varying perspectives among leadership and develop a practical action plan to strengthen the process of unity and renewal”.
“Members of the NEC have expressed concern about a concerted and a well orchestrated and well resourced campaign to sow division and confusion within the ranks of the ANC with the ultimate aim to destroy the movement as an instrument of progressive transformation and change. It is noted that this campaign is actively aided by a few individuals from within the NEC itself through leaks, deviant public pronouncements, protests and misinformation on social media aimed at distorting the decisions of the NEC,” said the ANC president.
Similar sentiments where echoed by ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe on Sunday.
Mabe lamented the huge headache caused by the continued leaking of audio recordings of the internal NEC meetings in the party’s attempt to renew and rebuild itself.
“The ANC approved communication protocol states that any involvement in the leaking of confidential information shall constitute a violation of this communication protocol. The ANC has a responsibility to deal with this act of misconduct in the same way as it would deal with any act that brings the organisation into disrepute.
“In terms of this protocol, any member who leaks or releases information to the media or public without due authorisation or prior approval shall be guilty of misconduct, Mabe explained.
“The ANC legal team is looking into this matter of leaks, including the unauthorised dissemination of ANC NEC material across social media platforms.”
Similarly, Ramaphosa said “the NEC agreed to take urgent steps to investigate the leaks from the NEC meetings and any organised campaign to subvert the movement and take appropriate action”.
Step aside guideline adopted by the NEC
Besides trying to forge unity in the organisation that has been rocked by internal infighting, the NEC also discussed the implementation of the step aside guidelines and procedures.
“During this meeting we received a report from the NWC on the implementation of the resolution that all ANC members indicted for corruption and other serious crimes should step aside or be temporarily suspended pending the finalization of their cases. The report indicated that in line with the decision of the NEC meeting which took place from March 26-29, a number of ANC members had stepped aside and others had been served with notices of suspension and these include our Magashule and NEC member Bongani Bongo,” Ramaphosa said.
“This meeting had confirmed the terms and conditions for elected office bearers and public representatives who have stepped aside or have temporarily been suspended. These include that during the step aside period: such members may not carry out the duties and responsibilities of their office; secondly they may not represent the organisation publicly or on any other forum; thirdly, they may not make public pronouncements to matters related to the organization, fourthly, they may not engage in the mobilization of ANC structures or any other organization or individuals”.
While during the step aside period public representatives may not occupy any executive office or other position of responsibility in the legislature to which they belong, they will still be entitled to remuneration and other benefits as per labour relations.
Ramaphosa also explained that the decision to step aside will be reviewed by the relevant structure or the organisation every six months.
ANC still going strong amid public spats
He conceded that while public spats were painting the party in a negative light, the unity and hard work by ANC ground structures was ensuring that the party continued to win by-elections and placing it in good stead going into the looming local government elections.
Ramaphosa said: “We discussed in detail the state of cohesion and unity within our movement. The NEC noted with deep concern the continued factions, divisions and divisive public pronouncements and spats which give the impression of an organization that is in crises”.
“Fundamental to these challenges is the critical process of implementing the mandate of the 54th national conference with regard to building unity on principle and unity in action combined with the task of ensuring organisational and societal renewal”.
"At the same time the meeting recognised that the work of the organisation has been going on despite all these spats and differences at leadership level. And contrary to impressions created in some public discourse, the work of the organisation is continuing to testify to the fact that the ANC lives and the ANC leads.
Since the last NEC meeting well over 2000 branch general meetings have been held and regional conference have also started and provincial conferences will also be talking place. In some ways the ability of the ANC to continue to win the many by elections is because of the structures of the ANC, the branches of the ANC that remain robust and alive,” Ramaphosa concluded.