As the African National Congress gathers momentum, the troubled Secretary General has dug his heels in and sought the arbitration of the Gauteng Court by challenging his suspension, seeking to, instead suspend his leader and President of the party, Cyril Ramaphosa. In addition, Ace Magashule has said that he will only apologise if instructed by the court to do so.
Ace Magashule had been served with a suspension from his position as the party’s Secretary-General earlier in the month after he failed to step aside for being charged with corruption involving a tender when he was still premier of the Free State province. The ANC National Working Committee had recommended any member that is charged with an offence is required to step aside and if he or she fails to do so, they will be suspended according to the constitution of the party. Magashule was given time to do the honourable thing and step aside but refused to do so, which then led to his exclusion from participation in the party meeting that happened over the weekend. The party, at the meeting of the National Executive Committee, resolved to endorse Magashule’s suspension and extended him an olive branch by saying that if he were to apologise for attempting to suspend Ramaphosa, he would not have to sit before a disciplinary committee.
However, on Friday, a defiant Magashule filed papers that sought to nullify the decision of the NEC to suspend him as well as the requirement for him to make a public apology. In a thinly veiled threat that accompanied the court application, Magashule said about the urgency of his application, “The matter is urgent as it is a subject of rising tensions in the party and must be dealt with to reduce the temptation on anyone to resort to self-help or even violence of any kind.” Magashule went on to state in his court application to the South Gauteng High Court that he felt that he was exercising his roles and responsibilities as the secretary-general of the party when he suspended the party president, Cyril Ramaphosa. Furthermore, he asked the court to decide on the lawfulness of the requirement for him to make a public apology, adding that he would only accede to it if it was part of the ruling of the court for him to do so. “Any apology issued by me before legal clarity is given by this honourable court would not be genuine or meaningful,” he adds in his application.
Magashule also called into question the constitutionality of the step aside resolution, which he says has been changed beyond recognition by the pro-Ramaphosa NEC, further alleging that the change was deliberately meant to purge the party of those members with diverse ideological views. “The real motive behind my being purged is the desire to remove me, by hook or by crook, from the all-powerful position of SG so the road to the re-election of president Cyril Ramaphosa and his faction in the next national conference is made easier,” he adds.