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Ace is going nowhere – but to the Integrity Commissio...

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Ace is going nowhere – but to the Integrity Commission on December 12

Archive Image: ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and General Secretary Ace Magashule on June 24, 2018 in Polokwane, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Antoio Muchave)

A powerful lobby -  supported by President Cyril Ramaphosa - to push ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule to step aside, failed at the governing party's final national executive committee meeting for the year.

ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule will not step aside from his job, even after being charged with corruption in November. 

Instead, the governing party’s final national executive committee (NEC) meeting for the year has agreed with Magashule’s decision to appear before its Integrity Commission on Saturday, December 12.   

Findings of the Integrity Commission are not binding. He is likely to go into 2021 still in his role, despite the party’s 2017 conference resolution and an August NEC statement saying members charged with corruption must step aside. 

Ramaphosa has prioritised party unity over a firm anti-corruption position.  The naysayers (who had predicted a showdown) were wrong, he said as he delivered the party’s final set of decisions for the year. “We have not torn ourselves apart … the unity of the ANC is paramount if we are to lead the radical transformation of our society and our economy,” said Ramaphosa.

He also announced that the ANC had decided that outstanding reparations to victims of apartheid, as determined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, should be paid. Unpaid reparations are a festering sore in South Africa.

And Ramaphosa warned that the country could “walk through a valley of death” if the Covid-19 resurgence now gripping the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal was not heeded.  “[We have to] change behaviour now and prevent the resurgence we see on the horizon.  What we do as a society over the next month will be crucial to prevent a second wave [of Covid-19 infections].” 

He said the party had revived the idea of a state-owned pharmaceutical company as the Covid-19 vaccine had shown up the need for manufacturing capability in South Africa and the rest of Africa. The UK became the first Western nation to make the vaccine publicly available. Russia and China started mass vaccinations of the most vulnerable populations earlier.  

ANC NEC: Graphic Rudi Louw


Ace 1 – Ramaphosa 0 – for now 

While Ramaphosa put the cloak of unity and compromise on the outcome of the NEC meeting, Magashule won the day. 

Three legal opinions tabled at the meeting said that the party could not force leaders to step aside as this was counter to the constitutional legal principle of being innocent until proven guilty.

“While legal opinions are important, and as a voluntary organisation, the ANC is duty-bound to follow its resolutions and NEC decisions.  There will be no dilution of the positions we have taken.  We will fully implement the mandate of the 54th conference [the step-aside rule] and decisions of the NEC (see graphic) – [these are] fundamental to the renewal and credibility of the ANC,” said Ramaphosa.

But since the resolutions were taken over 100 days ago, and the ANC HQ had not developed guidelines for how the step-aside rule will be implemented, the question of the party’s secretary-general doing so has been kicked into touch.  

“We are confident we will still be able to implement the resolution of our conference,” said Ramaphosa.  He also said that the party “condemns in the strongest terms the burning of ANC regalia outside the court where the SG [Magashule] appeared in Mangaung [after he was charged with corruption in November] as well as inflammatory language [used]”.  

Magashule’s supporters ran a Jacob Zuma-like campaign outside the court and burned T-shirts with Ramaphosa’s image on it and ANC flags too.  On the day, neither the secretary-general nor his political supporters (some of whom are on the party’s NEC) tried to stop the regalia arsonists. 

The ANC NEC meeting also “confirmed our appreciation of the work of the Zondo commission.  We affirm our call to all members to cooperate and to refrain from unnecessary attacks on the DCJ [Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo] and the work he has been asked to do by the people of South Africa.”

Former president Jacob Zuma and his supporters have fired barbs at the Zondo commission, which summoned him to appear in November 2020.  He left the hearings without being permitted by Zondo and now faces two additional summons to appear to give testimony on separate dates in January and February 2021.  Zondo has also brought an application in the Constitutional Court to get it to compel Zuma to give testimony without the option of the right to remain silent. 

The NEC only meets again in January. DM   


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