President Cyril Ramaphosa has read the party’s suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule the riot act for sowing chaos when he leaked a letter claiming he was suspending the party president.
Magashule wrote the letter purporting to suspend Ramaphosa on Wednesday 5 May and caused a day of chaos which was quickly nipped in the bud, as he did not have the authority to do so. His action caused even his supporters in the party’s NEC to say he had gone a step too far.
Magashule found himself isolated at the weekend NEC meeting with a substantial majority of the 86-member body lined up against him. He was also prevented from joining the meeting, in line with the conditions of his suspension.
In addition to being suspended for failing to adhere to the step-aside rule, Magashule faces additional disciplinary charges if he does not publicly apologise to Ramaphosa and to the general body of 1.4 million ANC members. The two together create grounds for expulsion as they bring the ANC into disrepute, the same charges used to expel EFF leader Julius Malema in 2012.
Such an order to publicly apologise is unprecedented in the ANC and leaves Magashule with a Hobson’s choice. To make the apology is a massive climbdown for the strongman politician; but if he does not apologise, he could be expelled from the party for bringing it into disrepute.
Ramaphosa said Magashule’s letter had been written without authority or mandate and that it was a “completely unacceptable and flagrant violation” of the party’s norms and values. Magashule has to apologise publicly and “if he fails to do so, he will be disciplined in accordance with the [ANC] constitution”, said Ramaphosa.
The NEC will also investigate the weekend leaks from the meeting, which were designed to give the impression that Ramaphosa was against the ropes. Voice notes of Magashule supporters, like NEC member and former spokesperson Dakota Lagoete, were circulated as soon as they had delivered their contributions at the meeting.
The party will also investigate death threats made against the ANC NEC co-ordinator, Andries Nel, a former deputy minister currently working at Luthuli House. Jessie Duarte is now the party’s acting secretary-general. DM