Cyril Ramaphosa rescues the ANC
Ace Magashule set to be called to account as party unpacks results
President Cyril Ramaphosa will confront his detractors in the ANC tomorrow, emboldened by an election victory that confirmed his personal appeal but saw the ANC punished for state capture and corruption.
The ANC's electoral win, albeit with a reduced majority, has strengthened Ramaphosa's hand ahead of a special national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the ANC top brass scheduled for tomorrow.
Ramaphosa's cabinet is expected to be discussed between him and members of the top six on the sidelines of the NEC meeting.
ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said they would soon hear the president's plans for his executive. "It's not only about reduction, it's about getting efficiencies right, it's about a whole lot of things," he said.
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Ramaphosa "is going to make sure that he appoints people with integrity, people who will work", Mashatile said.Ramaphosa's backers plan to confront secretary-general Ace Magashule about what was seen as his negative effect on the party's performance at the polls. ANC support dropped below 60% for the first time.A showdown is also looming at the special NEC meeting over controversial figures who are facing allegations of corruption but who remain on the ANC's parliamentary list.A report by the party's integrity commission, identifying candidates not suitable to represent the ANC in parliament as they are implicated in corruption and state capture, is expected to be tabled.The red-flagged candidates could be asked to step aside or ordered off the list.ANC leaders close to Ramaphosa said the outcome of the elections shows "the gloves must come off" and that Magashule needs to be confronted about the damage he caused to the party. "We are now in a different environment; the elections have come and gone. Lots of people feel that it is enough already," said a senior NEC member.The ANC recorded its worst performance since 1994, with 57.5% of the national vote, and declines in all nine provinces. It came within a hair's breadth of losing control of SA's economic hub, Gauteng, with 50.19% of the vote in the province.The results show that hundreds of thousands of voters across all nine provinces split their votes, opting to vote for the ANC at national level but not on the provincial ballot.
The faction led by Magashule and others loyal to former president Jacob Zuma had intended to make Ramaphosa the scapegoat for a poor performance by the ANC.
But the results breakdown shows that 643,194 people voted for the ANC at national level but for other parties in their provinces - viewed as the "Cyril effect".
Party leaders said the ANC must examine the root causes of the overall tumble in support. They said Magashule must face the consequences for the party's negative image during the campaign due to, among other things, serious allegations of corruption against him and racist comments he made in the Western Cape when he said people shouldn't waste votes on an umlungu (white).
An NEC member said they also want to take Magashule to task for divisive conduct and his attempt on Friday to rubbish Ramaphosa's popularity.
The NEC meeting is also due to approve premier candidates for the eight provinces where the ANC retained its majority. The party's provincial executive committees are meeting today to decide on three names for premier per province, from which the national leadership will fill the post.
The meeting, however, does not have a fixed agenda, and several NEC members said they would take the opportunity to confront major factors that contributed to the ANC's downward slide. "This must be dealt with now. I can't see it being an easy meeting," said an NEC member.
The integrity commission, made up of party elders, has apparently reviewed the election list and identified people who ought not to represent the ANC in parliament.
It is not known how many people the integrity commission recommended be removed but candidates who have previously been red-flagged include Nomvula Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba.
Some NEC members said if people do not withdraw voluntarily based on the integrity commission findings, the national leadership should order them to do so.
Ramaphosa's supporters said that though support for the president cemented the ANC's win, Magashule and the party's failure to shun disgraced leaders were a turn-off for voters.
"Everyone knew that we would have done far worse if it was not for the president … so I don't know why the [secretary-general] would go out and make his view known. He is publicly opposing the president," an NEC member said yesterday.
Tensions in the ANC boiled over on Friday when Magashule and the party's elections head Fikile Mbalula took shots at each other at the Independent Electoral Commission's results centre in Pretoria.
Mbalula said earlier that the ANC could have sunk to 40% had Ramaphosa not become the party leader in December 2017.
But Magashule told reporters Mbalula was talking "nonsense" as voters had supported the party, not an individual.
Mbalula shot back, saying Ramaphosa had been the "game-changer".
"He thought I said Ramaphosa alone led the campaign. I didn't say that. I said he was a game-changer because he was an important piece of the campaign," said Mbalula.
It is understood that Ramaphosa is determined to dramatically reduce the size of his cabinet and is insisting on having no more than 10 deputy ministers.
But the looming reduction of the executive is expected to result in mass resignations from parliament.
A party insider who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal said they expected long-serving ministers and deputy ministers who were known to be loyal to Zuma to resign so that they could benefit from large pensions.
"They will do the work for us. Many of the people that are with Ace [Magashule] will resign. It is mostly because of money, but some may resign in protest," the source said.
The Sunday Times understands that Ramaphosa is looking for "new, fresh blood" to be part of his executive. The head of the ANC's political school, David Masondo, has been touted as a newcomer to Ramaphosa's executive.
Former ANC Youth League leader Ronald Lamola has been given the nod by the president and many senior leaders have confirmed they have lobbied Ramaphosa to include him in the executive, possibly as rural development & land reform minister.
Lamola would not comment on his possible deployment but said he had decided to "make a sacrifice" and leave his medium-sized law firm to serve the ANC in parliament.
Other younger faces expected to form the core of the new cabinet include Zizi Kodwa, Stella Ndabeni, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and Shirley Makhubela.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni is understood to have indicated that he is keen to remain in his position for at least another year to maintain stability at the National Treasury.
It is also expected that Ramaphosa will for now retain Pravin Gordhan as public enterprises minister to continue the process of stabilising state-owned enterprises and to oversee the unbundling of Eskom.
ANC insiders said Ebrahim Patel and Derek Hanekom are also expected to be kept on to continue Ramaphosa's flagship programmes of attracting investment and boosting tourism.