Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC officials meet to decide Ace Magashule’s fate
The ANC’s top officials, including President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza, are meeting on Friday to discuss secretary-general Ace Magashule’s defiance of the party’s decision to suspend him.
The meeting is also expected to decide if Magashule should be allowed to attend this weekend’s meeting of the ANC’s highest decision making body in between national conferences, the national executive committee (NEC).
Magashule sent shockwaves this week when he refused to comply with the ANC national working committee’ (NWC) decision to suspend him after he failed to voluntarily step aside pending finalisation of his criminal case.
LISTEN | What now for Ace Magashule?
He is facing a raft of charges including corruption, fraud and racketeering related to a R250m asbestos eradication tender that was awarded in the Free State during his time as premier of the province. Magashule is a co-accused in a long list of accused people including businessman Edwin Sodi, who won the tender with his now-deceased partner Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani.
The ANC NWC resolved on Monday that all leaders facing criminal charges who have not stepped aside of their own accord should be suspended after their 30-day deadline expired at the end of April.
It emerged on Wednesday that party deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte had written a letter to Magashule on Monday informing him of his suspension.
Magashule immediately responded with his own public letter, denouncing his own suspension and instead announcing the suspension of Ramaphosa, citing the saga around his CR17 campaign funding even though this has not become a criminal matter.
Insiders have told Sowetan sister publication, TimesLIVE that Magashule, who is part of the top six by virtue of his elected position, had not been invited to Friday’s meeting which is due to start at 3pm.
The meeting would only be attended by Ramaphosa, Mabuza, Duarte, treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and national chairperson Gwede Mantashe.
Among other matters, the officials will also go through the step-aside appeal process formulated by Mashatile and decide whether an affected member’s suspension should be automatically lifted once they mount an appeal.
Magashule, in his letter about Ramaphosa, indicated he had appealed his suspension, in terms of which he is prohibited from representing the ANC in any forum internally or publicly.
“Officials are meeting at 3pm. They are reflecting on these things of suspension letters and counter letters,” said a member of the ANC NEC who requested to remain anonymous because they are not allowed to speak publicly about the matter.
The insider did not rule out the possibility of Magashule’s suspension being lifted since he was appealing.
However, another senior ANC source argued that Magashule should not be allowed into the meeting as his suspension kicked in on Monday. The source said Magashule’s appeal was ill-informed since his court case was far from conclusion, with the trial only scheduled for later this year.
“What are you appealing when you are [still] indicted in a court of law? You are in court on charges of corruption and fraud, so what are you appealing?” the insider said.
“The letter states it clearly, that the person is suspended from all activities of the ANC. You cannot represent the ANC on any platform. You are suspended like at work. Once suspended you can’t attend diary meetings at your work or take part in any meetings to plan for your newspaper. It means you are sitting at home.”
This was at odds with the opinion of one of the NWC members who spoke to TimesLIVE.
“He's appealing the step-aside, not the charges in court,” the insider said.
“They [national officials] must hear his reasons why he thinks he should not be stepping aside. The NWC accepted there must be a process of appeal so they will have to discuss and finalise that.”
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