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I have never refused to step aside, says Ace Magashule

Suspended ANC secretary-general says the party's national working committee jumped the gun and suspended him in an 'absurd and unlawful' manner

14 June 2021 - 17:39 By mawande amashabalala
Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says he has never refused to step aside from his position. File photo.
Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says he has never refused to step aside from his position. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has told the Johannesburg high court that he never refused to step aside from his position in the governing party.

Magashule submitted that the party, in fact, prematurely suspended him without affording him a chance to state whether he was going to step aside.

This is contained in Magashule's responding affidavit in the legal challenge he launched against the party,  seeking the court to declare his suspension invalid and unlawful.

In his papers, Magashule insists that his suspension was “absurd and unlawful” — directing his attack at the party's national working committee.

According to Magashule, the NWC was overreaching by suspending him as it did not have the power to make decisions but only to implement the decisions of the national executive committee and oversee day-to-day operations of the ANC.

Magashule charged that his suspension was the responsibility of the NEC, which he argued had not taken such a decision when the NWC pulled the trigger.

The troubled Magashule was suspended from his position last month after his refusal to step aside as per an NEC resolution that leaders facing criminal charges do so or be forced to through suspension.

“I have never refused to step aside,” said Magashule in the affidavit. “I was prematurely suspended before being given a proper and due opportunity to make and communicate a decision one way or the other.”

Magashule further insisted that not only was the NWC overreaching but so was the ANC deputy secretary-general by issuing him the letter of suspension.

Jessie Duarte, in her affidavit filed on behalf of the ANC, had sought to dismiss this, saying her office was the same as that of Magashule and thus enjoyed the same powers.

“Nothing can be further from the truth. The ANC constitution makes a clear distinction between the roles of the SG and the DSG. To seek to blur the lines is self-serving and unsustainable,” Magashule said.

Duarte, according to Magashule, was not only caught offside because she had no power to suspend him, but even the process she followed was flawed and suspicious.

In this respect, Magashule said the letter suspending him was backdated and he found it odd that Duarte “does not remember when she signed such an important and unprecedented letter suspending the secretary-general of the ANC”.

“In any event, the most important consequence of this selective and convenient amnesia [is that] she cannot deny my assertion that the letter was backdated,” he said.

“I have also noted the allegation that I was conflicted and could not as a result author my own letter of suspension and that consequently the responsibility somewhat 'fell on' [Duarte]. The [ANC] is an organisation governed by rules and procedures. Responsibilities do not 'fall' on anyone including [Duarte]. Consequently all the letters that were issued by the DSG without authority remain null and void.”