ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule is likely to either appeal his suspension or take the entire process to court, say party officials.
In a midnight drama, Magashule wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he was suspending him – something no individual leader in the ANC can do.
But that move has overshadowed his suspension and provided insight into his current strategy.
Magashule is likely to appeal his suspension to Mathews Phosa,
the lawyer and former treasurer and Mpumalanga premier who will hear appeals from
any of the estimated 30 party representatives who must now step aside.
If he does not appeal, Magashule will use his powerful bank of lawyers to go straight to court to argue that his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is violated by the step-aside rule.
If he goes to court or appeals, a legal argument will ensue over whether either action places into abeyance the operation of his suspension.
Magashule has said he is still secretary-general in office and suspended Ramaphosa because he has the power to do so.
But the ANC constitution says only the party’s national executive committee (NEC) or national working committee (NWC) can suspend an ANC president.
If this happens, the secretary-general’s role is to inform the president that he or she has been suspended.
The NEC is an 84-member governance structure that is the party’s highest decision-making body between conferences.
The 26-member NWC is appointed from the NEC – it is this body that suspended Magashule and set the cat among the pigeons.
The NEC has put Magashule’s letter to Ramaphosa on the agenda of its weekend meeting
where the reform wing is likely to argue that he should face additional disciplinary charges for bringing the party into disrepute and for insubordination.
Former labour minister Mildred Oliphant chairs the party’s disciplinary committee.
As reported here, Magashule does not have a majority on the ANC NEC, but he does have
powerful supporters like Tony Yengeni who has spoken publicly for him since his
suspension. He is reportedly allying with former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede in lobbying KwaZulu-Natal’s branches.
Gumede must also step aside from her position as a provincial legislature member, since she is facing corruption charges, too.
She, too, has indicated her intention not to do so.
Ace Magashule has the support of at least two Cabinet ministers on the party’s NEC, as well as that of the Women’s League and its president, Bathabile Dlamini.