Ace Magushule unlikely to be topic of discussion at ANC's special NEC meeting - sources

Ace Magashule (Adrian de Kock, Netwerk24)
Ace Magashule (Adrian de Kock, Netwerk24)

Those who are circling ANC secretary general Ace Magashule will have to wait for an ordinary sitting of the party's national executive committee (NEC) before suggesting that serious action be taken against him or asking him to "step aside".

But the party's special NEC meeting on Monday is expected to discuss the reconfiguration of government departments and an integrity commission report – not Magashule.

Many are baying for Magashule's blood and some in the party told News24 they want to raise objections against him and want the many allegations levelled against him investigated.

Magashule himself told News24 last week that he had heard murmurs that he was a target, including reports of a specialised investigation unit that will target him.

"Well that's what you guys are saying, it's what people are saying. So what? I hear all these things all the time."There is no smoke without fire, but we leave matters there," he said.

'Ace must just go'   

News24 spoke to at least five senior party leaders, including three NEC members, who want Magashule out.

"Ace must just go. [There's] nothing more to it," said an NEC member who wanted to remain anonymous. The NEC member said Magashule was not likely to be discussed but warned that if the election report was tabled, the secretary general's behaviour during campaigning would have to be dealt with.

"He has been putting out divisive messages and veering completely off track. And that back and forth with Mbaks (Fikile Mbalula), what was that? "

Magashule and Mbalula, the ANC's head of elections butt heads over the role Ramaphosa played in the elections, with the latter referring to him as a "game-changer and the former insisting that the ANC's victory was a collective effort and that former president Jacob Zuma played a role.

"I expect we might go into details on the election report over his ridiculous utterances about the phone taps and what happened with Mbalula at the IEC. Over and above that, it's too early to ask him to step down, but it's coming," another NEC member said.

A third NEC member told News24 that while Magashule continued to be a "liability", the ANC was preoccupied with setting up a new government and would "decisively" deal with him later. 

"The president has something much bigger to manage for now. Cabinet selection needs to be balanced. He must be able to pick the best from each side,"  the party insider said.

"We don't even need to do the work. [Magashule] is not forgotten but he is not urgent. The NPA will deal with him. What I know [is that] he is cooking something to discredit the unity project," one of the NEC members said.

NEC won't ignore former president Thabo Mbeki

One of the three sources said the NEC will not ignore reasons why stern action had to be taken against Magashule, citing claims made at the commission of inquiry into state capture and comments by former ANC and state president Thabo Mbeki.

"Right now, we have former president Thabo Mbeki's views. He said the issues around the secretary general's office should be clarified and we have to take his view seriously."

He was referring to Mbeki's foundation's transcripts, published after his interview with the Sunday Times.

Mbeki told the Sunday Times that the NEC should figure out what to do about the numerous claims of corruption levelled against Magashule.

The Free State's former economic development MEC, Mxolisi Dukwana, implicated Magashule in allegations of state capture and the ongoing inquiry. He alleged that Magashule introduced him to the controversial Gupta family and took him there under false pretences.

In author Pieter-Louis Myburgh's explosive book, Gangster State, several serious allegations were levelled against Magashule, including using undemocratic means to stay in power, influencing the awarding of government tenders and contracts, and demanding a 10% cut from those who were awarded contracts.

Magashule says it was all a "plot" to remove him but he isn't fazed, saying that he can only be removed at the party's mid-term review next year.

Another jab

In the Free State over the weekend, Magashule delivered a memorial lecture in honour of late former struggle icon Walter Sisulu, where he appeared to take yet another jab at some of his fellow leaders.

"Never sing songs about leaders who are still alive because they are going to think they are special, that they are important because they are promoted by the media. They think they are more important than the ANC itself..," he said, adding that leaders during Sisulu's era never sought favours.

He made the comments while Sisulu's daughter Lindiwe looked on. She was with the ANC's subcommittee chairperson of international relations, Lindiwe Zulu, and ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini.

Two of Magashule's allies have told News24 they were aware that a war was looming within the party."What must we do? It's not just him. A whole lot of us are being targeted. They have the numbers now… but we won't sit and fold our hands," a former provincial leader said.

A party member who weighed in on the issue told News24 that those eager to remove him failed to read ANC documents.

"The NGC (national governing council) can never overrule a resolution taken by national conference. It can only recommend to national conference. So the SG is a product of the national conference. He cannot be recalled by an NGC. Comrades don't read. Comrades are just refusing to read."

Meanwhile, Magashule insists that action will be taken: "I am a politician and when advised, I take the advice. There will be legal action," he said.

Watch this space. At the right time things will happen. They are starting to happen."

Magashule also admitted to News24 that his claim that the government was tapping his and other officials' phones could have been raised at a different time and internally.

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