Ace Magashule downplays North West disbandment calls

20 August 2018 - 17:35 By Aphiwe Deklerk
ANC general secretary Ace Magashule.
ANC general secretary Ace Magashule.
Image: Masi Losi

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has downplayed calls for the disbandment of the North West provincial leadership‚ labeling them “side issues”.

Magashule‚ who is part of the ANC's top leadership that is visiting the beleaguered province‚ attributed the calls for disbandment of the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) to the fact that the party had opened its meetings to include ordinary members of the party.

Initially‚ only branch and regional leaders were scheduled to meet with the party's top guns. “Side issues will always be raised; but we are happy that across the regions‚ our organisation is there [although] it’s faced with certain challenges‚” said Magashule.

He was addressing journalists on Monday afternoon on the sidelines of the ANC's National Working Committee meeting with the North West's PEC.

The National Working Committee (NWC)‚ including the ANC's top six leaders‚ were on a two-day visit to the North West‚ which started on Sunday and included meetings with branch and regional structures to discuss the political tension within the party's structures.

Party members who are mainly opposed to provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo have been leading the fresh calls for the PEC to be disbanded. It is understood that these calls come from‚ among other people‚ the same ANC members who wanted Mahumapelo to be removed as North West premier earlier this year.

Mahumapelo was forced to resign as premier in May after a similar visit by the NWC which followed violent protests by community members in Mahikeng and calls by his comrades who were threatening to remove him through a motion of no confidence.

On Sunday‚ disgruntled members of the party made the calls directly to President Cyril Ramaphosa at a heated meeting of the Bojanala region held at the Rustenburg Civic Centre. At the same meeting‚ party members booed Mahumapelo and sang songs appealing to Ramaphosa to act.

Magashule‚ who is seen as Mahumapelo's ally‚ told journalists that it was not everybody in the North West who was calling for the disbandment of the party’s leadership. Others were keen to work together and move on. But the party leadership would still discuss and assess the state of the party in the province‚ he added.

“We are here to refocus our structures‚ to say ‘listen‚ come together‚ work together‚ let’s move‚ this is the year of unity…'" said Magashule.

The ANC's top leaders visited the four regions of the party in North West to listen to branch leaders on Sunday.

Party insiders described the meetings as tense and told of how a number of members who attended the meetings called for the party leadership to disband the provincial structure.

Video clips doing the rounds on social media also showed disruptions at one meeting which was attended by treasurer-general Paul Mashatile.

At the time of publishing‚ the NWC was still locked in a closed-doors meeting with the provincial structure over the reports from the regions.

The NWC is expected to make a recommendation to the party’s National Executive Committee on whether or not to disband the provincial leadership.