From step-aside fight to 'suspensions': A timeline of Ace vs Ramaphosa so far

06 May 2021 - 12:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule during a provincial conference in Polokwane, Limpopo. File photo.
Image: SOWETAN/ANTONIO MUCHAVE President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule during a provincial conference in Polokwane, Limpopo. File photo.

Squabbles within the ruling party continue to play out in the public, with Ace Magashule's suspension and the attempted suspension of President Cyril Ramaphosa being the latest. 

The ANC's secretary-general was suspended from the party on Wednesday after he failed to step aside, following corruption charges brought against him relating to a multimillion-rand Free State asbestos eradication tender awarded during his tenure as premier of that province. 

Here is a timeline of events so far:

Charges faced by Magashule

In November last year, Magashule was charged after he was linked to a R230m asbestos eradication tender awarded during his time as Free State premier.

He is co-accused in a long list, including businessman Edwin Sodi, who won the tender with his now-deceased partner Ignatius “Igo” Mpambane.

Magashule was arrested and released on bail of R200,000 after he made his first appearance at the Bloemfontein magistrate's court to face charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

Magashule remains defiant

After he was told to step aside by the ANC leadership, a defiant Magashule said he was not going anywhere. 

“I am not going anywhere. I listened to [EFF leader] Julius Malema. I am a member of the ANC. I will remain in the ANC until I die,” he said. 

Magashule said he would remain loyal to the party.

“I am not those people who say my blood is black, green and gold and the next [thing] we form another party.”

Ramaphosa calls for corrupt-accused leaders to step aside

In March, ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa asked leaders facing criminal charges to step aside within 30 days or risk being suspended.

Ramaphosa made the call during his closing address to the ANC's national executive committee (NEC).

He said all ANC members charged with wrongdoing should step aside, failing which they should be suspended in terms of rule 25.70 of the party's constitution.

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Magashule adds names to step-aside list

As the calls for Magashule to step down increased, Magashule sent a letter to provincial secretaries instructing them to add the names of ANC members who are facing corruption or serious criminal allegations — even if they have not been charged — to the list of people who should step aside. 

He denied widening the scope of ANC members who will be affected by the party's ruling.

“I’m not widening anything, I’m talking about the conference resolutions. Please read the conference resolution and the NEC resolution and combine everything and make your own conclusion,” he said.

Temporarily suspended

TimesLIVE reported that Magashule was served with a letter of suspension on Monday, the same day the ANC's national working committee (NWC) resolved that party leaders who failed to step aside voluntarily be summarily suspended.

Magashule's suspension letter was signed off by his deputy, Jessie Duarte, who was communicating the decision of the NWC.

In it, Duarte said Magashule was temporarily suspended from May 3 until the final outcome of his court proceedings. She also told Magashule he was not expected to perform any of his duties during his suspension.

However, he will still receive his salary and all the other benefits that come with his employment. He earns about R130,000 a month.

Magashule 'suspends' back

Not giving up without a fight, Magashule “suspended” Ramaphosa in a leaked letter, which appeared to emanate from his office. 

However, speaking to TimesLIVE, the ANC's national chairperson Gwede Mantashe said the letter, even if legit, holds no power and Magashule cannot suspend Ramaphosa. 

“Decisions in the ANC are taken by structures and not individuals,” said Mantashe. “[The intention] is to cause confusion and he [Magashule] is doing someone’s bidding. 

“You can’t take decisions on your own in an organisation. It has no consequence. You can’t as an individual write a letter suspending another member. It means I can also write a letter to somebody else to suspend him. There is no organisation that operates in such a manner,” he added.