Backers of embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule have hatched a new plan to oust President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Celebgossip.co.za has learnt that Magashule’s supporters – leaders from regions to national executive committee (NEC) members – met at a lodge in Bloemfontein on Friday night to discuss a plot to remove Ramaphosa, at the heart of which is a call for a special national conference.
This was few hours after Magashule was released on R200 000 bail after he appeared briefly in court on 21 charges of corruption and fraud, alternatively theft and money-laundering. The matter was postponed to February 19 for the addition of at least three more accused persons on the charge sheet to join Magashule with the rest of the accused.
He was ordered to surrender his passport and must inform the investigating team if he wishes to travel abroad. He was also ordered not to be in contact with any witnesses, particularly his former secretary, Moroadi Cholota, who has turned state witness.
Present at the meeting were NEC members Supra Mahumapelo, Tony Yengeni, Joe Maswanganyi and Bongani Bongo, among others. Provincial leaders including Mpumalanga secretary Lindi Ntshalintshali were also in attendance.
A leader who attended the meeting said charging Magashule was a declaration of war by the Ramaphosa faction.
“These are trumped- up charges. It is clear that this is a political campaign against the SG [Magashule]. If we fail convening the special conference, branches will have to use the national general council for Cyril to go,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It was agreed that the leaders would go to branches to mobilise them for a special conference. The faction was banking on the Free State, North West, Kwazulu-natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the North West to deliver the majority needed to convene a special conference, at which they would remove Ramaphosa.
The group was also preparing to put up a big fight should the Ramaphosa faction try to use the next NEC meeting to push for Magashule to step aside while he faces criminal charges.
Another leader who attended the meeting, where it is understood that the leaders expressed their anger at Ramaphosa, said the meeting was a “strong statement” about their intentions to take the fight to the president.
The faction also discussed what they deemed selective arrests by the Hawks. They said it was unfair that Magashule was charged for failure to exercise oversight on the asbestos matter while Gauteng Premier David Makhura, for instance, had not been charged for deaths that occurred during the Life Esidimeni saga and the PPE scandals.
Addressing the crowd outside the court on Friday, Magashule intimated that there were moves for convening a special conference. He said it was only branches of the ANC that could remove him from his position. “I was elected by branches. We must go to a special conference and the branches must say to me: ‘Comrade Magashule step aside’. I will then do so because it will be coming from the basic units of the ANC, the branches.”
The asbestos audit project was awarded to the late Igo Mpambani’s Diamond Trading and Blackhead Consulting’s Edwin Sodi by the Free State department of human settlement.