Ace Magashule, secretary-general of the ANC, has called for unity as the ruling party gears up for elections next year.
In an exclusive interview with Independent Media, Magashule delved into the challenges of having to unify two deeply divided groups within the movement in the aftermath of the ANC elective conference at Nasrec last December.
Going into the elections, Magashule is at the centre, trying to pull together two opposing factions at a time when opposition political parties are gaining traction, eating away slowly at the ANC’s numbers in the polls over the years.
While grappling with this, he remains adamant that factionalists in the party do not represent the moral and professional ethos of the ANC, will be rooted out in time and will not succeed in removing him from his position as secretary-general of the liberation movement.
Magashule alleges that those sowing divisions within the party through the media are working with “agents of anti-transformation” and form part of a problem where black South Africans “continue to be excluded and marginalised” from the mainstream economy.
“I have been in the ANC for more than four decades, and after every conference we always came out united. There were always two groups at conference. One would win, and one would lose.
“As a democratic organisation, our members are allowed to have their preferred candidates, but once conference is over we unite,” he said.
Recently, former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana claimed that Magashule took him to see the Guptas where he was offered R2 million a year for 10 years for his signature regarding a government deal worth R41 billion – a claim Magashule strongly denied, saying it was “absolute rubbish”.
He has since said that if called to testify at the State Capture Commission of Inquiry he is ready to give his side of the story.
Another disgruntled group of about 52 people from Gariep in the Free State, led by Ike Moroe and Neo Motgaung, took the ANC to court to challenge the provincial elective conference, accusing Magashule of presiding over an unlawful PEC, being biased and doing underhand dealing in the province.
According to Magshule, 50 of the 52 members have since come to him to apologise.
“They say that they were sorry, and that they were paid and made to lie about me. There have been attempts to tarnish me because in my term as premier of the Free State I was focused on empowering black business, exposing double standards and effecting transformation, which ruffled a lot of feathers,” he says.
An example of this, he says can be found at the Reitz Chicken Abattoir in the Free State, a white- owned business that received R300 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
The business, says Magashule, is alleged to be engaging in practices where its majority black workforce is suppressed, yet has never been the subject of any ongoing investigations in the media “because it is a white-owned company”.
Magashule says the project was presented to him by the Department of Agriculture and Department of Finance in the province. It was heavily supported by the IDC and cost more than the Estina farm project, but “because it is white- owned” there was no noise.
“We are in an age where those who want to further their own agendas will use disinformation to sow divisions within the party for their own selfish gain. This is the time to forget about differences and focus on unifying the party.
“The divisions are bleeding the party. We cannot continue with having issues and driving agendas against each other.”
He claims there are individuals within the party who want him out as the SG because he is seen as a Zuma man. “The reality is I am no one’s man.
“I am a member of the ANC NEC who had his own preference. I have been a senior member since the days of the unbanning when Nelson Mandela became president. I was there during Thabo Mbeki’s tenure and under Jacob Zuma. I am now here under President Cyril Ramaphosa. When the head of the organisation is attacked, it is my duty to protect them.”