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ANC NEC face-off over issues dividing party along factional lines

2019-07-28 17:02

The NEC meeting currently under way has the top brass tackling burning issues, from land to the Public Protector, that are dividing party members along factional lines

On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa diffused tensions in the ANC regarding the implementation of the resolution on land expropriation without compensation as well as the nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank – two issues seen by his opponents as the soft underbelly, enabling them to attack him for allegedly abandoning the ANC’s resolutions.

City Press also understands that the party agreed to refer the controversy involving national executive committee (NEC) member Derek Hanekom to the top six to resolve, after conflicting arguments were advanced for and against disciplining him.

City Press was told by sources that the debate followed Ramaphosa’s presentation of the political overview report at the ANC’s NEC meeting, taking place at St George’s Hotel in Centurion, Tshwane.

It began on Friday and ends today.

“The president was clear that the issue of land remains an injustice, but said the ANC should attend to the matter in a responsible way so that it does not unsettle the market and detract from the agenda of economic growth,” said insiders who were present during discussions.

Similarly, Ramaphosa warned that if not handled with caution, the discussion about the ownership of the Reserve Bank would not only be costly to the fiscus but also to the economy. 

The president’s detractors have suggested that if the party fails to implement conference resolutions, then those in government will face a tough time accounting to party members at the ANC’s mid-term review conference, the National General Council, which takes place in June next year.

This weekend’s NEC meeting was expected to be divided on factional lines between those who back Ramaphosa and those supporting ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule over how to handle the possible removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, as well as the release of her two reports – on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Ramaphosa, respectively.

The meeting got off to an odd start on Friday, with Magashule seemingly gagged from delivering his usual address to the media before the sitting.

While ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe provided no explanation for the uncommon start to proceedings, City Press understands that the approach was agreed on by the ANC top six, who agreed that, given the thorny discussions being held by the party, it would be ideal that only a consolidated outcome of such discussions be communicated to the public after the meeting.

Mabe would only say that those in the meeting would scrutinise Ramaphosa’s political report, Magashule’s organisational report and other reports on the affairs of the party during the three-day gathering. 

“We are going to communicate decisions on Tuesday,” he said.

The burning issues before the ANC top brass also include former president Jacob Zuma’s spy allegations against senior party leaders at the state capture commission and former tourism minister Derek Hanekom’s confession that he plotted with the EFF to unseat Zuma.

Copies of emails circulating on social media – which City Press could not authenticate – suggested that Ramaphosa was actively involved in raising funds for his ANC presidential campaign in 2017, contradicting his claims that he was deliberately kept in the dark about all work relating to fundraising for his campaign. 

The ANC had a clear resolution that using money to win party elections should be interdicted as it had the potential to erode party values.

An ANC MP sympathetic to Mkhwebane, and against the call for Parliament to probe her fitness to hold office, told City Press that on Thursday, during a meeting of the party’s parliamentary caucus, his group tried to raise the discussion on Mkhwebane’s fate with a view to “quashing it, but there was an agreement that the caucus will have input at a later stage”. 

Magashule had been expected to lead discussions of the organisational report, identified by Zuma’s supporters as an opportunity to table their gripe with Hanekom and push for him to face disciplinary action over his admission to having plotted with the EFF to unseat Zuma.

Hanekom, an ally of Ramaphosa, has allegedly been spared a disciplinary process. This, after attempts to have him expelled from the ANC were allegedly foiled by the Ramaphosa bloc in the NEC.

Insiders claim that those who came to Hanekom’s defence argued that he was “attacked” and insulted in a late-night press statement, without organisational protocol having been observed.

Derek Hanekom. Picture:Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

They argued that Hanekom was not given a chance to explain himself and that those who had composed the press statement did so on the basis of information gleaned “from the opposition”. 

This was in reference to a revelation this week by EFF leader Julius Malema that Hanekom had met with the EFF to come up with a plan to get rid of former president Jacob Zuma.

“Derek was treated unfairly. Anyway, if you want to discipline him, you must also deal with those who make allegations about spies in the organisation and with those who make statements without being given a mandate to do so. That is ill discipline,” said an insider.

The source also claimed that the NEC had resolved that the matter be referred to the top six, who would meet with Hanekom to give his side of the story, but emphasised that the engagement would not be a hearing.

Kebby Maphatsoe, president of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), told City Press before the meeting that Hanekom must be expelled because he was head of the ANC disciplinary committee and he should have known better. 

“If you connive with parties that do not share the same policies as the ANC or with counter-revolutionary agents, the consequence is expulsion from the ANC,” he said.

“Our advice to him is that he step aside because he has brought the organisation into disrepute.” 

Maphatsoe said many ANC councillors had been expelled, under Hanekom’s watch in the disciplinary committee, for voting with the opposition to remove ANC mayors.

Turning to the subject of Mkhwebane, Maphatsoe said she must be left to do her work, adding that she had been under constant attack from a biased media because she was investigating their “favourites”.

PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE

However, a group of ANC veterans yesterday launched a pre-emptive strike in defence of Hanekom, saying that Magashule’s rebuke on Wednesday, following Hanekom’s confession, was regrettable.

The authors – identified as Cheryl Carolus, Sheila Sisulu, Ilse Fischer, Murphy Morobe, Fazel Randera, Mavuso Msimang, Pallo Jordan and Aslam Dasoo – said the claims by the EFF implicating Hanekom were “mischievous and untested”.

Read: ANC veterans slam Magashule, call on the party to defend Hanekom

They said Magashule’s response “regrettably continues to develop a perception within our movement that our organisation remains divided and factionalised, [and] we are sure members of the top six and the NEC agree that there must be a stop to attacking members who have dedicated their lives to our movement.”

The top six also met with the MKMVA and MK council leaders on the sidelines of the NEC meeting, where a decision was taken to forge ahead with efforts to unite the two structures into a single body representing all of the ANC’s ex-combatants.

Ahead of the meeting on Friday, the main entrance at St George’s was the scene of day-long protests by two groups: members of the ANC Youth League, who had gathered to demand that the structure be disbanded; and ANC members from the Free State’s Maluti-a-Phofung municipality, who wanted the ANC top brass to intervene with regard to issues of maladministration in the running of the municipal council.

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September 15 2019