The African National Congress (ANC) has dismissed claims that Secretary-General Ace Magashule has distanced the party from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s letter to members on Sunday.
In a statement on Monday evening, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said these claims are the work of “fake-news peddlers who are hellbent on sowing divisions within the ranks of the ANC.”
He added, “It is clear that wedge-drivers who hate to see a united ANC are now on overdrive trying everything possible to undermine the collective resolve and unity of our leadership to fight corruption wherever it raises its ugly head.
“We wish to state unequivocally that the entire leadership of the ANC, including the Secretary-General, is in full support of the contents of the letter from President Ramaphosa, as it reflects and represent the views of the collective.”
Mabe stressed that Ramaphosa’s letter echoed resolutions of the party’s 54th National Conference held in 2017. He urged ANC members to “remain vigilant and defend the unity of our organisation.”
The claims surfaced on social media on Monday afternoon, but it is unclear who exactly started them. Ramaphosa and Magashule have long been perceived as being at odds on the direction the ANC should take on various issues, including renewal and radical economic transformation (RET). While Ramaphosa is known more for his push for renewal, Magashule has established himself as a leading RET proponent.
Magashule has also publicly argued that ANC leaders accused of corruption should be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. However, in his letter to ANC members on Sunday, Ramaphosa said leaders who are facing corruption or disciplinary charges must step aside from their government roles until they clear their names.
‘Win back people’s trust’
“We cannot hope to win back people’s trust if we continue to allow cadres who are charged with criminal conduct for corruption to occupy positions of responsibility within government and our movement.
“Those charged are required to insulate the African National Congress from reputational damage arising from their personal challenges by stepping aside while their cases are being heard,” Ramaphosa wrote.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) is scheduled to meet this weekend as the party grapples with the fallout of alleged COVID-19 corruption. At its last meeting earlier this month, it decided to prepare an audited list of ANC leaders facing corruption or disciplinary charges. It is expected that such members may be asked to step aside from their roles in government.
NEC members aligned to Ramaphosa, including Jackson Mthembu and Derek Hanekom, have vowed that the NEC will take “decisive action” against corruption at its meeting.
Mthembu tweeted n Monday, “@eNCA says @MYANC won’t follow President @CyrilRamaphosa’s call to act decisively on corruption. The ANC NEC this weekend will definitely disappoint the @eNCA and all other doubting Thomases. We will act against corruption in all its manifestations and prove all of them wrong.”
“[Ramaphosa’s] letter is clear. The mood and determination to deal with this evil behaviour is strong. Action will follow. No escaping it – must happen and will happen. Otherwise…we are all doomed,” Hanekom added.