Factions take the lead ahead of the weekend's ANC NEC meeting

Ahead of a regular sitting of the ANC's NEC, factions are readying themselves to argue over major issues plaguing the party.

FILE: ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and party secretary general Ace Magashule. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - As the African National Congress’s (ANC) national executive committee meets for a regular meeting this weekend, some in the party are hopeful that it will produce “an interesting road map” towards the future of the former liberation movement.

Different factions are readying themselves to make arguments for and against a series of issues, including the fate of the party’s secretary general, Ace Magashule, its integrity commission, an instruction by the ANC’s top officials for its Members of Parliament to vote in favour of a Democratic Alliance-sponsored motion, as well as the state of its various structures in provinces.

Staunch allies of the secretary general told Eyewitness News this week nothing would happen to him, in spite of an integrity commission report recommending he step down with immediate effect.

“All these things that have been happening is part of their campaign, aimed at going after the SG. We can see it but it won’t succeed,” said an NEC member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Over the past week some of Magashule’s detractors, including thought leader Joel Netshitenzhe, head of the economic subcommittee Enoch Gondongwana and the ANC in the Eastern Cape addressed a number of issues through the media.

Netshitenzhe in an opinion piece said Magashule stuck out like a “sore thumb”, accusing him of “seemingly” being part of a campaign to undermine the party’s own structures.

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The ANC in the Eastern Cape has already started implementing the step-aside resolution and it called for a faction - known as the “radical economic transformation committee” and for backing Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma - to be discussed this weekend. The party’s Eastern Cape grouping said the RET committee was an organisation within the ANC that would probably contest it for power at some point.

“They cannot complain about the RET grouping, they started this trend. Can you tell me what was 101 stalwarts about, or Save SA?” questioned the first party insider, referring to organisations made up of civil society and former ANC leaders that came to the fore at the height of calls for former president Jacob Zuma to step down.

“They set this trend. It’s just coming back to bite them,” continued the NEC member.

The party leader also defended Magashule’s comments regarding ANC MPs being instructed to vote in favour of a committee being set up in the National Assembly to investigate Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office. Magashule distanced himself from the decision, accusing them of directing its members to vote with the enemy. The motion was brought by the DA.

“The SG just uses old language. In our constitution it speaks about opponents, the DA is an opponent,” said the insider, who also raised concerns over other ANC members coming after the organisation after being fired for voting with the opposition in municipalities like Maluti-A-Phofung and Tlokwe.

This NEC member also attacked ANC Eastern Cape provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane over his masters’ debacle at Fort Hare University, claiming it was proof that the premier was not suitable to lead and questioning if he was not capable of misrepresenting audit results to the auditor general.

“He is worse than the SG. He is out here wanting to shine on fake results,” he complained.

On Thursday the university laid criminal charges against a Nigerian fugitive, Professor Edwin Ijeoma, for the alleged irregular admission and registration of two students, including Mabuyane.

Another insider close to Magashule told Eyewitness News that the secretary general had no business sharing his views on the outcomes of the top 6 meeting, saying he was nothing like his predecessor, Gwede Mantashe, who usually took and defended the party line, even though he was in disagreement with the general view.

“I don’t know how anyone speaks out for the man. He defined himself outside of the officials… how does he go to a radio station and say those things?” questioned the second NEC member, referring to Magashule’s interview with KZN’s Gagasi FM defending those who left the national assembly sitting in which ANC MPs voted with the DA last week.

The second insider also dismissed the blistering attack launched by Netshitenzhe on Magashule, saying old people politics are what’s wrong with the ANC today and that many were tired of feeling caught in the middle as their elders fought to protect their interests.

Two other NEC members who are known allies of party president Cyril Ramaphosa argued that this was the beginning of the end for many in the party, with one telling Eyewitness News party processes might take long but they were done kicking the can further down the road.

“You know the ANC’s processes are slow but this meeting, I promise you, will produce an interesting roadmap towards the future of this party,” said the third source.

Another who seemed impatient insisted there were progressive forces in the ANC who wanted “the scalp of this man,” referring to Magashule, and wanted to see progress in rooting out people they believe were not right for their party. They complained that every time they attempted to put the secretary general and his supporters on the backfoot, they became stuck and not sure of the next move.

Divisions have continued to plague the governing party, with NEC member Fikile Mbalula also at the end of numerous public tiffs, which saw him getting into hot water with the likes of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu.

meanwhile, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe in a statement said this was an ordinary sitting of the NEC, with a range of issues including COVID -19, the local government elections and terms for integrity commission’s reports being on the agenda.

The meeting kicks off on Friday and will wrap up on Sunday.

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