While many around the country and in the ANC are debating whether David “DD” Mabuza will take his seat as the country’s deputy president, factions in the party are preparing themselves for a “bloody clash” later this week when the party's national executive committee (NEC) meets.
It is expected to become the scene of a battle to gain control of the party’s engine room at Luthuli House with secretary general Ace Magashule’s head likely to be on the chopping block.
At least four NEC members have told News24 that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction is gunning for the party secretary general. The party's ordinary NEC meeting takes place just before an NEC lekgotla intended to discuss the ANC government’s plans.
These NEC members claim Magashule’s camp is well aware of what’s coming and is probably planning a counter-attack.
Magashule has been at loggerheads with those close to Ramaphosa, even publicly calling for party supporters to refrain from singing songs praising living party leaders.
During a recent commemoration of struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu in the Free State, Magashule said some within the ANC think themselves salient because of media promotion.
Magashule’s conduct during the elections also raised questions. During a rally in the Free State, Magashule accused ‘some’ of using state resources to tap his phone.
While Ramaphosa was courting white voters and business, Magashule went on a campaign rally in the Western Cape stating the party did not need white votes.
This led to criticism from the party veterans who called his statement racist. His indiscretions continued during electioneering in the Western Cape when he was seen handing a woman R400 during a party door to door campaign.
Last week The Sunday Times reported that Western Cape ANC head of elections Ebrahim Rasool said Magashule had a damaging effect on the party’s campaign in the province.
Seen as divisive, Magashule committed another error when he refused to give credit to Ramaphosa for having landed the party a win during the elections. This despite head of elections Fikile Mbalula’s statement that without Ramaphosa, the party would have sunk to 40%.
One NEC member told News24 that ‘they’ will call for Magashule to appear before the ANC's integrity commission over his statements. He also cited allegations of corruption labelled against the secretary general as detailed in book ‘Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture’ by investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.
“One thing I can guarantee, on the 31st [May] there will be blood on the floor but I cant guarantee an outcome. That guy must go. It definitely will not be easy but he must go.”
“We the dogs of war are ready. Us, the president’s dogs. We just needed a signal and we got it. It’s time to clean up,” added the NEC member.
The insider, close to the president, said they plan to use Nasrec resolutions against Magashule.
“Page 21 of those resolutions is very clear. It deals with the credibility and integrity of the party. It is also clear on what our approach should be when dealing with corruption.”
The resolution states that members, “accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices accounts to the integrity committee immediately or faces DC processes.”
The resolutions also adds the NEC can summarily suspend people who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down, while facing disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures.
The source said even the deployment of former parliamentary chair of chairs Nomvula Mokonyane to the party headquarters had not been discussed.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe announced last week that Mokonyane would be reassigned to Luthuli House, after she decided not to go to Parliament due to family considerations.
“That’s not a thing, its never been discussed. They know what’s coming. I don’t know how they will counter but they know.”
A second ANC insider also believed to be in a faction close to Ramaphosa said the fight for the soul of the ANC needs to be managed at Luthuli House.
“Ace is consolidating at Luthuli House. Nomvula is going to the headquarters, and more of his people expected to join him. It’s a mess. It’s a mess that is already playing itself out in public. The president can't convince South Africans he is cleaning up if the person in charge of the ANC is covered in mud. He needs to be suspended and we have the numbers.”
The insider said discussions around Magashule’s future were a matter of urgency adding that they had intended to raise the subject during the last special NEC in Cape Town, however the NEC had other pressing matters including those flagged by the integrity commissions. The committee was roped by the NEC to vet its national and provincial lists.
Among those flagged were deputy president David Mabuza and party chair Gwede Mantashe, sources told News24.
A provincial leader said he anticipated a blame game during the next NEC meeting. The source said Magashule will not be removed immediately as the party will need to follow all processes.
“The fault lines will be clearer after cabinet,” the source said. He added that to prevent this, Ramaphosa needs to gradually decrease the size of his cabinet, however he said this may be difficult as “his [Ramaphosa's] people want a lean, mean cabinet.”
A fourth source in the NEC said while he doesn’t think Magashule will disappear after the NEC meeting he was living on borrowed time.
“Ideally it would have been good for the organisation to have comrade (Senzo) Mchunu and Zizi Kodwa in Johannesburg. They wanted parliament. Can you imagine branches that would be cooked in that office.
“You can't be a president without a credible and loyal SG. You need to trust that whomever is at Luthuli House is doing the job correctly. We all know what needs to be done. If not the NPA, it must be the elders [integrity commission] and us who make that call.”
He added that the NEC will need to follow the rules of the party’s constitution.
“It needs to be done strategically. All party processes must be followed, or we will be seen as bullies. The NEC cant be seen to be pushing people out because they have dissenting views. This would damage the party. Strong evidence needs to be presented. I think there is strong evidence.”