South Africa’s Ruling party ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule is being shovled to step aside from his position if all other leaders who are implicated in wrongdoing- including President Cyril Ramaphosa – do the same.
This was the blunt message delivered by Magashule’s allies during a contentious national working committee meeting at the beginning of this week on Monday.
Magashule & his allies have been calling on individual NEC members to whip up support against his possible removal from office.
Magashule has gone as far as urging members to “fight” for him, as he is unwilling to step aside.
Magashule is battling a court case in which he is accused of swindling a total of up to R10 million (U$639,652) from the failed multi-million rand asbestos project. R255 million was paid out in a tender to remove asbestos from the roofs on houses while Magashule was Premier.
After his appearance in court, Magashule told a crowd outside that he would not step aside unless told to do so by the ANC branches.
However, the ANC constitution says the secretary-general can temporarily suspend a member for various misdemeanours that bring the party into disrepute – a corruption charge applies to that definition.
Since Magashule is the one being accused in this situation, the task of implementing the Party rules would fall to his deputy.
The ‘step-aside rule’ was confirmed in a conference resolution of the 2017 Nasrec conference and reaffirmed in a special anti-corruption NEC in August.
“There will be a reassertion that all those charged must step aside,” said an NEC member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The person predicted that there would be “fireworks” at the two-day meeting, which gets under way on Sunday, 6 December.
“Demand that every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices accounts to the Integrity Committee immediately or faces DC (disciplinary committee) processes,” says the 2017 ‘step-aside rule’ resolution.
This resolution adds that: “Summarily suspend people who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down, while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures.”
According to some ANC NEC members this ‘step-aside rule’ is binding on Magashule although he has a different interpretation to it.
Ramaphosa is increasingly standing isolated in the party’s top six as an adherent to the step-aside rule.