During a post-ANC national executive committee (NEC) briefing on Monday, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule dismissed reports that have suggested that there is tension between him and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He repeatedly used the word ‘unity’ and said the only “plotting” he would be doing would be with Ramaphosa and other senior ANC leaders against divisions in the ANC, as well as unemployment, poverty and inequality.
He maintained that he was enjoying working with Ramaphosa and would not allow any “wedge drivers” to come between him and the president.
The outcome of the NEC meeting disappointed those who had been expecting possible fireworks between Ramaphosa and Magashule ahead of the weekend after a Sunday Times front-page report had suggested that Magashule and other Jacob Zuma loyalists may have been meeting with Zuma in Durban to “plot” against Ramaphosa.
On Sunday, it was reported that Ramaphosa told the ANC’s NEC meeting that he was determined to keep pushing a “unity” line. Ramaphosa again emphasised unity at a memorial talk about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
This came despite apparent tensions in the build-up to this weekend’s meeting in Pretoria, with particularly Magashule appearing to have lashed out at Ramaphosa ahead of the president’s trip to New York to attend the United Nations.
Speaking in Bloemfontein last Friday evening, Magashule didn’t name Ramaphosa specifically, but spoke about the supposed fact that “there are people who are products of the white man in the ANC. I am a product of the masses of our people. I am not made by the white man. I’ll never attack a leader of the ANC in public,” said Magashule, who seemed to feel he had earlier been “attacked” by Ramaphosa and his “faction” when Ramaphosa spoke out against those who “meet in dark corners” and called those who plot to divide the ANC “counter-revolutionaries”.
However, Ramaphosa reportedly told the NEC that if the party can’t convey an image of unity, it would simply be harming its own prospects in next year’s elections.
The president was reportedly also “annoyed” that “everyone was communicating what they want”, particularly in relation to an ANC message about the SA Reserve Bank that had needed to be withdrawn in an embarrassing episode for the party.
Other party statements have also been made that have left the ANC’s leader less than happy. Even the ANC’s spokesperson, Pule Mabe, apparently got things badly wrong when he boldly denied that there was any plot by former president Jacob Zuma’s supporters against Ramaphosa. His predecessor as spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, said Mabe should never have issued a statement.
A perception had consequently been created that Ramaphosa’s office and Magashule’s were not coordinating their communications.
Many people expected that there might be drama at the NEC meeting, but Ramaphosa apparently decided not to discuss the supposed plot against him. Had he done so, it’s been suggested that Magashule and his supporters had a plan to fight back that involved the confession by Deputy Correctional Services Minister Thabang Makwetla during an earlier NEC meeting that he had received a more than R1 million cash bribe and only returned it to an unknown businessman six weeks later.
Magashule’s supporters in the top echelons of the ANC reportedly feel aggrieved that only some ANC members are being targeted by “selective persecution” over perceived corruption, while others, such as Ramaphosa supporter Makwetla, have evidently been given a free pass.
The Mail & Guardian had reported that the “pro-Magashule group” planned to point to alleged inaction from Ramaphosa against numerous top ANC politicians who benefited financially from tenders given to controversial facilities management company Bosasa as evidence of double standards in Ramaphosa’s leadership.
They are unhappy that the Hawks have been targeting Magashule for his involvement with the Guptas in the Estina dairy project and other instances, including millions paid to the Guptas’ media companies through the Free State government.
The Zuma-allied Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association wants Ramaphosa to establish a commission of inquiry into the Bosasa scandal.