Africa-Press – South-Africa. Johannesburg – ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is keeping his cards close to his chest following an ANC national executive committee (NEC) instruction for party members facing serious crimes to vacate office.
On Monday, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation that the party’s national leadership took a decision that all senior and provincial leaders facing criminal charges should step aside or face suspension.
Outlining the resolution, Ramaphosa said: “All members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which, they should be suspended in terms of Rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution.
“The meeting emphasised that the 30 day period will be to enable the implementation of the decision in line with the guidelines, not to review the decision.”
On Wednesday, Magashule made his first public appearance in Soweto to plant trees after the public announcement made by Ramaphosa on Monday night.
Traditionally, Magashule was expected to also address the media at the party’s headquarters on Tuesday to further explain the ANC NEC resolution and answer questions on other resolutions, which included chaos in higher education and the government’s vaccine rollout plan, but he was a no show.
Faced with questions related to the resolution, Magashule told a horde of journalists that they should “wait and see.”
His response prompted more speculation about a planned defiance by some of his supporters in the ANC NEC.
Despite refusing to answer whether he would step down, Magashule was adamant that he remained a “loyal and disciplined member of the ANC.”
In a veiled response to EFF leader Julius Malema’s utterances on Tuesday that the ANC’s call to Magashule to step down might benefit his party, Magashule said: “I heard Julius, but I am not that type. My heart is black, green and gold.”
Journalists wanted Magashule to reveal whether he would comply with the decision or would defy it and, possibly rally some of his supporters to act against the ANC.
In his reply, Magashule said: “I respect the resolution of the ANC.”
In his bid to steer the media from repeating the same question, Magashule said: The President of the ANC, Comrade Matamela Ramaphosa, conveyed the resolution of the ANC. I was part of that meeting. What else do you want?“ he asked.
He, however, confirmed that he would be consulting with past leaders of the ANC about the recent resolutions saying one of the first people who had agreed to meet with him was former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa – the two are due to meet on April 11.
Magashule also said that he would also consult with former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. He admitted that he had been in constant contact with former president Jacob Zuma since the step aside decision was taken but the two are also having a scheduled meeting to discuss further on the matter.
Asked about reasons for meeting Mbeki despite media reports that the former president was scathing about his leadership role in the secretary- general office, Magashule asked the journalists: “Did you attend the (NEC) meeting?”
In an apparent denial of the reports, Magashule said: “President Thabo Mbeki made a constructive contribution at the NEC meeting.”
Pressed to answer whether he would comply with the order, Magashule repeatedly said: “Wait until 30 days. I support the Nasrec resolution.”
“There is a comprehensive report on who must step aside. This is contained in the ANC’s Integrity Committee report,” Magashule emphasised.
Magashule was accompanied to Soweto by the controversial UMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Associations (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus – who was criticised for his role in the radical economic transformation (RET) forces.
Niehaus was signalled out at the ANC NEC as the person responsible for the divisions within the ANC and an alleged plot to undermine Ramaphosa. There were also growing concerns that Niehaus was operating from Magashule’s office.
Asked about Niehaus’ presence, Magashule said: “Carl is working in my office and he is not controlling me.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers and Sadtu has come out in support of the ANC step aside resolution.