'We bought it with our own money': ANC supporters to defy party rules in support of Magashule
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule's supporters say they will don party regalia when they march to the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Friday.
Dubbed the “radical economic transformation” (RET) faction, the ANC members, who were bussed into Bloemfontein and held a night vigil on Thursday, have vowed to defy the call by top party officials not to wear ANC regalia and instead support Magashule in their individual capacities.
Magashule is scheduled to appear in court on Friday to face charges of corruption related to a R255m Free State asbestos project awarded to businessman Edwin Sodi in 2014. At the time, Magashule was Free State premier.
Speaking during Thursday's night vigil, uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus said the members bought the clothing with their own money and would wear it as they pleased.
“As ANC members, we buy these T-shirts with our money. We can wear them, and we will wear them,” Niehaus said. “Tomorrow [Friday], comrades will come in their ANC regalia. I personally will come in the uniform of uMkhonto weSizwe, so I will have my uniform on.”
Niehaus joined the night vigil of about 200 supporters at the Loch Logan Rose Garden park in Mangaung.
He said they were supporting Magashule as ANC members and not as individuals, which is in direct contradiction with the call made by the party’s top officials.
“What we are faced with here is that ANC structures are speaking and they are saying we want to be here because we want to have a demonstration for unity in the ANC. We are concerned that this warrant of arrest against the secretary-general can cause division. We want to bring message of unity.
“We are not here to try to be in defiance of anyone, but at the same it is our right as members of the ANC and members coming from structures representing the ANC,” Niehaus said.
Niehaus was reacting to a call made by the national office bearers of the ANC which discouraged party members from wearing ANC regalia in support of Magashule.
He seemed to also refer to another grouping in the Free State, which said it was “disgusted” at the provincial executive committee's decision to mobilise the structures of the ANC to support Magashule.
It said the decision was against the statement by the ANC national official bearers issued on Wednesday that T-shirts and posters bearing Magashule's name shouldn't be printed.
The group said it was its contention that Magashule faced charges in his personal capacity and in no ways related to his membership of the ANC, or his responsibility in the movement.
At least 1,000 people were expected to support Magashule when he appears in court on Friday, Niehaus said.
He said those who came to support Magashule would be sleeping in the buses they travelled in as they didn't have money to book into a hotel.
“We do not have a lot of money so we haven’t been able to book accommodation and such things, so comrades will be sleeping in the buses here at this location,” Niehaus said, adding that they would not be breaking Covid-19 regulations.
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