- Squabbles within the ANC's national executive committee continued at the start of its weekend meeting.
- Factions in the party are not fabrication, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha said.
- Supporters of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule claimed President Cyril Ramaphosa was also suspended.
There appeared to be little hope of reconciliation between the two squabbling lobbies within the governing ANC at the start of a national executive committee (NEC) meeting earlier described by one leader as a "watershed moment".
While some called for a special conference to be held to deal with the ANC's problems and divisions, another leader said the NEC should go on a "long retreat" to thrash things out.
Limpopo Premier and ANC provincial chairperson Stan Mathabatha told his colleagues on the first day of the meeting on Saturday the ANC should support President Cyril Ramaphosa because he was "one of the best that we could find".
He said the unity of the ANC was "sacrosanct" and could not be traded for anything, but he questioned whether the ANC even existed still.
"Do we still have an organisation called African National Congress, or do you have two or three groupings or factions who all claim to be representing the organisation claiming to be the ANC?" he said. "For us to respond to this very fundamental question, I suggest we go into a retreat as the NEC."Mathabatha added:
He said it was no longer possible to say these divisions were a "fabrication".
Former president Thabo Mbeki, ahead of the party's 2007 conference, used to deny the party was divided, but following his ousting it had become increasingly difficult for the party to deny this.Mathabatha bemoaned the fact some ANC members in provinces were organising factional conferences in Limpopo in Ramaphosa's name to further their own factional interests, according to an audio recording of the meeting leaked to Eyewitness News.
ANC NEC member Dakota Legoete, however, questioned whether there was even-handed action against those implicated in corruption and crimes.
He asked why Ramaphosa was in the meeting at all because of the "suspension letter" issued against him by suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule this week.
According to the ANC's constitution, however, only structures and not individuals could suspend members from the party.Legoete said:
He added the charges against some other leaders were worse than those against Magashule, although he did not mention them by name. "If the NEC was to have integrity and reputation in dealing with corruption, those ones should also be included [on the list of those who should step aside]."
Legoete, who is a sympathiser of Magashule, said the ANC should call a special conference/ to deal with these issues.
Magashule attempted to attend the meeting earlier on Saturday and notified the NEC about his appeal, but he was "switched off" from the virtual meeting after Ramaphosa's supporters objected to his presence.
Magashule has argued he should remain in his position while his appeal is being heard.
ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who some have claimed should step down because he too faces criminal charges, was also removed from the meeting.
Magashule has written a letter to appeal his suspension, even though Rule 25.70 of the ANC's constitution under which he has been suspended, makes no provision for such an appeal.
This appeal procedure, as well as the ANC leaders sitting on such an appeals panel, is set to be decided at the weekend meeting, which is expected to continue until Monday.
Northern Cape ANC chairperson Zamani Saul told regional conferences in the Northern Cape ahead of the weekend NEC meeting the ANC's rule stating those charged with serious crimes should step aside, was fundamental to the party's renewal.He said:
Saul added some "pain and sometimes utter chaos" would have to be endured in the process.
Some have argued the calls for those charged with corruption to step aside were causing divisions within the ANC.