[imagesource: Deaan Vivier]
It’s like a heavyweight boxing bout that’s been talked up for years and years, but the two fighters never set an actual date.
Oh, and the governance of a country hangs in the balance, with rampant unchecked criminality long overdue a good beating.
It’s early on a Monday – excuse the horrid analogies.
As things stand, President Ramaphosa threw his most aggressive punch yet, when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks arrested Ace Magashule earlier this month.
This was in connection with the infamous R255m Free State asbestos roofing removal tender, dished out whilst Magashule was premier of the province.
Just R21 million went to a company that did an audit of houses with asbestos roofs in the province, whilst the rest disappeared into a litany of accounts linked with politicians and connected businesspeople.
Following Magashule’s arrest, and subsequent bail of R200 000, the power struggle within the ANC continues, and again threatens to tear the party apart.
Here’s the Daily Maverick:
As the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) prepares to meet in 10 days’ time, it is clear that the dominating dynamic in the governing party is whether or not Ace Magashule will step aside as its secretary-general.
This issue is likely to inflame passions and divisions within the ANC. However, this is not a binary matter – it is about much more than simply deciding whether he stays or he goes. Either way, the scene is being set for the ANC to end next year, 2021, even more battered than it is now.
You may recall the ANC talking about members standing down when under investigation, an ‘integrity commission’ ( I know), and doing their own investigations, but this is a matter for the NPA to handle.
Should the prosecution fail, the knock-on effect could be felt for many years to come:
For Magashule’s critics and the NPA two critical developments need to happen.
The first is that the criminal trial must actually start. Magashule’s reputation and image will suffer greatly from him appearing in court day after day, while witnesses explain how his actions siphoned the money that was supposed to help the poorest of the poor into the hands of his chosen elite.
And then the trial must be quick and prosecutors must emerge victorious. If they don’t, the legitimacy of the NPA will suffer terrible damage, greatly undermining its ability to prosecute other cases.
That will be a seriously damaging blow for Ramaphosa and his allies. As the trial continues, expect conspiracy theories and misinformation to muddy the waters of which party members should be held accountable.
News24 reports that in the lead-up to next weekend’s NEC meeting, Ramaphosa has “already lost the first round”:
Party leaders say Cyril Ramaphosa has been caught on the back foot as legal advice the party sought on the matter of stepping aside has presented another stumbling block for the so-called anti-corruption faction.
In an interview with ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, the Sunday Times reported the advice from top lawyers was that stepping aside would be “a voluntary act” and forcing anyone to do so would amount to suspending them.
This is contrary to an assertive ANC that came out of an NEC meeting to address the media led by Ramaphosa in August.
It’s obvious why this will be read as a victory for Magashule.
Ultimately, as the case against Magashule continues, we’ll again get a decent look inside the halls of Luthuli House, to see just how much power the rival factions really wield.
With local government elections taking place across the country next year, there is a real worry that things could devolve further:
The danger for chaos and violence cannot be overstated.
Magashule has said repeatedly he will not step aside. The NEC is divided on the issue and is unlikely to come to any clean decision quickly. Everything will be dominated by that dynamic.
While 2020 has been the most terrible year for almost everyone, it may be that 2021 is actually more definitive for the future of South Africa. One thing is certain – it will not be an easy year
Great – because 2020 has been such a walk in the park (between the hours of 6AM and 9AM, whilst wearing a mask).
Finally, if the more ardent Magashule supporters are to be believed, it may be Ramaphosa whose days are numbered.
This from City Press:
…a concerted push for Ramaphosa’s removal is under way if those close to Magashule are to be believed.
“Ace’s support is unstoppable; he’s managed to grasp most of [former president Jacob] Zuma’s supporters. Ace will not be stoppable, the plan is to make sure he gets enough delegates before the NGC [national general council] conference; this way, when the motion to remove the current president is raised, it is supported by many numbers,” said the source
You can read that full report here.
In the battle of Cyril versus Ace, it really is nearing crunch time.
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