The suspended ANC secretary-general has suffered a series of significant defeats, Gangster State with virtually no evidence of any victories for him, or his dwindling supporters.
It is clear from the recent series of suspension letters in the ANC that a series of dynamics is climaxing around Secretary-General Ace Magashule.
While he still, rather boisterously, claims to have “suspended” President Cyril Ramaphosa after being himself suspended,
there is much evidence that the balance of power has now shifted sharply away from the Free State strongman.
While some will claim that the outcome is still uncertain, the process that has been followed suggests that there is now considerable –
and perhaps unstoppable – political momentum involved.
Magashule has suffered a series of significant defeats of late,
with virtually no evidence of any victories for him, or his dwindling supporters.
The letter, signed by ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte,
informing Magashule of his suspension is unprecedented in the party.
Never has a secretary-general been suspended in this way.
Equally, never has a secretary-general then tried to suspend a leader of the party in the way in which Magashule tried to do.
In a letter which went public on Wednesday night, and an accompanying media statement,
Magashule said he was suspending Ramaphosa from the party leadership because of the
Nasrec 2017 conference resolution saying those implicated in wrongdoing must step aside or be suspended Gangster State .
This appears to have been part of a consistent campaign to broaden the scope of the argument,
rather than complying only with the National Executive Committee (NEC) resolution which says those facing criminal charges must step aside or be suspended.
It has not yet been confirmed which letter was sent or received first.
A final and official outcome to this situation is likely to come after the NEC meeting this weekend.
While the legal technicalities are important in a situation like this,
it is possible that the politics will trump those, that who is “winning” matters more than who is technically (or legally Gangster State ) correct.
Recent history shows that Ramaphosa is on the winning side.
The process which has led to the removal of Magashule from his position has a long history.
The first signs of Magashule’s weakness were revealed before the 2019 election.
Immediately after the publication of the book Gangster State by Scorpio’s Pieter-Louis Myburgh in April that year,
the ANC released a statement condemning the book Gangster State .
But then it emerged the statement had been released by Magashule himself, and that the party’s top six leaders did not agree with it.
From that point on, the ANC secretary-general has not been able to alter the balance of power.
This became even clearer a few months later.
In July 2019 Magashule released an extraordinary statement attacking former Cabinet minister Derek Hanekom, calling him a “wedge-driver”.
This was because, in 2017, Hanekom had met with an EFF member to discuss possibly recalling Jacob Zuma as president.
Then it emerged that the other members of the ANC’s top six had tried to stop Magashule from speaking to journalists just before an important meeting,
in the aftermath of that statement.
By then, claims of corruption against Magashule were being made at the Zondo Commission,
and his full (still alleged) involvement in the Free State asbestos audit scandal was becoming clearer.
Fast-forward to the end of August last year, and then came Ramaphosa’s most public move:
an open letter to individual ANC members, stating that when it came to corruption,
“The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as Accused No. 1.”
This was a direct statement of intent, a sign that Ramaphosa was moving.
Just days later, the ANC NEC resolved that those charged criminally must step aside or be suspended.
Then came the bombshell: in November, an arrest warrant for Magashule, for the Free State asbestos project.
At the time he was defiant, saying that he could only be removed by ANC branches.
But to no avail. By the end of March this year, the NEC pressed ahead and issued a 30-day “step aside” deadline.
It became clear that Magashule was now very much on the ropes.
Throughout this timeline there is little to no evidence of any victories for Magashule.
While the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association and its spokesperson, Carl Niehaus,
have regularly demonstrated their support for Magashule, virtually no one outside the Free State has done the same.
Magashule has perhaps been able to slow down the process,
but the momentum towards the ultimate end has not lessened and it appears that this process is unstoppable.
Thus, even if there is an appeal of the suspension, or lengthy arguments at the NEC meeting this weekend, o
r emotional pleas from Tony Yengeni, the tide is very much against the suspended secretary-general,
confirming that Ramaphosa is firmly in charge of the ANC,
for the first time since Magashule won the election to the position of secretary-general at Nasrec in 2017 by just 24 votes.