- The ANC Women's League has distanced itself from embattled secretary-general of the party, Ace Magashule.
- It issued a statement to say this after its leader proposed that the step-aside decision should be deferred for the sake of unity in the party.
- The proposal led to chaos in the meeting after league members fiercely opposed the suggestion.
After a virtual meeting over support for embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule descended into chaos on Friday evening, the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) distanced itself from him.
News24 understands that ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini proposed that the league meet with party officials to ask them to defer the implementation of a decision to suspend criminally charged leaders who did not step aside within a 30-day deadline. She said it was in the interests of uniting the party.
But members of the league's national executive committee (NEC) questioned her proposal.
Speaker after speaker at the meeting on Friday night would not have it.
Some league leaders who support Magashule also insisted that the ANC should review the step-aside policy and that the party should convene an urgent national general council.
But the view was vehemently opposed in the meeting.
A source revealed that the meeting first descended into chaos and that Dlamini threatened to leave after she was attacked for her suggestion.
Later, sources said, Dlamini insisted that she was not out to support Magashule but was worried about the implications the step-aside decision would have for unity in the party.
But "leaders did not buy it", the source added.
"Many speakers asked why, when the step-aside policy affect[ed] women in the ANC, the league was quiet. But because it is affecting Ace [Magashule], we must now have urgent meetings," the source said.
"Delegates from KZN, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape... all over, were asking why should the women's league side with corruption accused leaders when women are the real victims of corruption."
News24 further understands that at least three ANCWL NEC leaders questioned why the league "wanted to defend men" but did not do the same when women leaders, such as former Eastern Cape MEC Sindiswa Gomba, were shafted.
"Pam Tshwete was on fire. She said that even though in the NEC of the ANC, she fought for Magashule, a decision was taken and Magashule must not be arrogant. She said there was no way the ANC Women's League should have to choose between Magashule and the ANC," the source said.
Other delegates, such as former ANCWL secretary Sisi Tolashe, said the ANC Women's League could not seek to defy a resolution of the ANC conference that it was part of.
On Saturday morning, the ANCWL issued a statement noting its concern about Magashule's conduct and distancing the league from him.
"With the suspension imposed on him, we appeal to him, as women, to consider humbling himself while organisational processes unfold. We know that it is difficult but we plead with him to rise above and not conduct himself in ways that further weaken the already struggling ANC. We are further worried that he mentioned the name of our secretary-general, Cde Meokgo Matuba, in one of his interviews. The ANCWL will not support any individual leader of the ANC but stands to reaffirm the entire collective leadership of the ANC and our confidence in them to deliver a better life for all, especially women and other marginalised groupings."
"The ANCWL chooses the ANC above all divisions in the movement. We refuse to be drawn in on the differences of ANC men who don't care about the future of the liberation movement. We will remain unshaken to fight for the soul of the ANC and we are confident that those who choose the ANC will stand with us," the league added in its statement.
Magashule told the SABC on Friday night that the women's league supported him and opposed the step-aside policy.
He was suspended this week after he failed to step aside from his position while fraud and corruption charges are pending against him.
In turn, he fought to appeal the decision and even attempted to suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa from the party.
The ANC's NEC is expected to meet this weekend to discuss the matter further and Magashule insisted that he would attend the meeting.
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