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Duarte had no authority to suspend me, says Magashule as he rejects suspension

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
Suspended ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule.
Suspended ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule.
Image: Alaister Russell

The battle over the soul of the ANC has been intensified after embattled secretary-general Ace Magashule rejected his suspension from the party, arguing that his deputy Jessie Duarte had no authority to slap him with the suspension letter. 

The governing party’s national working committee (NWC) had on Monday met and resolved that all those criminally charged by courts and affected by the ANC's "step aside" rule be suspended if they refused to leave their posts after the 30-day grace period that was given to them in late March. 

Magashule and other criminally implicated party leaders have indicated that they would not voluntarily leave their positions. 

In a surprise move, Magashule said he was, in turn, suspending President Cyril Ramaphosa from the party in terms of the party’s 54th fourth national elective conference resolution which was used to suspend him.

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This was despite the decision by the party’s national executive committee’s (NEC) resolution that only those criminally charged be asked to step aside and be suspended from the party until their prosecutorial cases are concluded.

In a responding statement to his suspension by Duarte on Wednesday night, Magashule blasted his suspension as "fatally flawed" and " in fact unconstitutional" and indicated that he was appealing it.

"In terms of the ANC constitution, my suspension is thus wholly suspended, until my appeal has been heard, and its final outcome announced,” Magashule said.

Magashule also called on all other suspended leaders to also appeal against their sanctions,  a move that was expected to intensify the widened rift within the party.

“It follows that the suspensions of all affected members will also in terms of the ANC constitution be suspended with immediate effect,” he said.

The ANC NEC is scheduled to meet at the weekend where it will receive the report on the instruction it had given to Luthuli House to coordinate the stepping aside of criminally charged leaders or their suspensions from the party.

ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who also received a suspension letter from Duarte, indicated that he would remain in his post as he had lodged an appeal and was awaiting feedback from the party.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party’s NEC would deal with the matter and that Magashule remained on suspension despite his letter.

“The decisions of the NEC and NWC stand. The ANC requests that the secretary-general respect the decisions of the NEC and subject himself to the discipline of the organisation,” Mabe said in a statement.

ANC head of presidency Sibongile Besani said Ramaphosa’s office had not yet received any suspension letter from Magashule and it would be against the party’s decision if it was issued.

“There is no way that a suspended person can write such a letter and suspend another person,” Besani said.

Besani said, if this was true, the letter would constitute ill-discipline.

“I don’t think the ANC SG [secretary-general] would stoop that low. You don’t appeal and suspend. The DSG [Duarte] has issued a letter of suspension on him, so he cannot suspend anyone while he is on suspension. This was the decision of the NEC,” he said.

Besani said all those who had issues with the directive that they step aside had to launch appeals while they were still on the 30-day grace period granted by the party.

“The decision for people to step aside was made 35 days ago,” he said.

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