The rebellion of Ace Magashule from within the ANC has reached a critical new level: The party’s secretary-general has been accused of trying to “capture Parliament”, and orchestrate a clandestine operation that would have seen key allies of Jacob Zuma occupy some of the most powerful law-making posts in the National Assembly.
The report, which features in the Sunday Times, suggests that Magashule and his cronies have been left fuming with Cyril Ramaphosa as he attempts to clear out the rot for the sixth term of Parliament.
How Ace Magashule planned his “coup”
The suggestion was also made by DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen, who revealed earlier in the week that he had acquired information that Ace Magashule “would be taking control of Parliament”:
“The president is certainly not in control of Parliament. Just watch who gets elected as committee chairs. My information is that Cyril will get the executive, but Magashule will be taking control of Parliament. This will have significant consequences for any reform agaenda Ramaphosa goes for.”
Ten MPs – for better or worse – have already resigned in the last month, with controversial figures like Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini being ejected from the Cabinet. However, Ace remains in a position of unrelenting power, and it has emerged he tried to make one more desperate powerplay to cement his status.
Who was on the list?
Magashule’s plan was to get “his people” installed as the new portfolio committee chairs. These are the figures who get to help implement certain policies and conduct oversights across several different departments. The list of members he’s said to have courted is enough to make Cyril Ramaphosa’s blood run cold:
- Supra Mahumapelo: His disastrous premiership in North West was littered by corruption allegations.
- Faith Muthambi: Her time as communications minister was characterised by irregular appointments and salary hikes.
- Mosebenzi Zwane: One of the key figures behind the Gupta / Vrede Dairy Farm shambles. Also maligned for his erratic approach to establish a “50% black ownership rule” for all mining companies in South Africa.
Cyril Ramaphosa vs Ace Magashule – something’s got to give:
Had he been successful, Magashule would have stripped a large chunk of authority away from Cyril Ramaphosa and an internal party coup could have seriously undermined any plans to “clean-up” the party.
In fact, this isn’t the first time Ace Magashule has been linked to a coup against Ramaphosa. It was reported last year that he and Jacob Zuma were meeting in secret to oust the newly-elected head of state. However, both men denied that they had anything sinister up their sleeves.
It’s understood that Ramaphosa was made aware of an attempt to seize control of Parliament on Wednesday. A caucus meeting for the following day was cancelled, amid fears that Ace Magashule would table his choice of representatives in a public forum. This particular crisis was eventually averted, but the saga is far from over.
Ace’s apparent mutiny could back Cyril into a corner he may not be able to escape from. Giving Magashule the boot would no doubt infuriate the Zuma faction of the party, leading to another internal revolt and a loss of support from the electorate. Once more, the president is left to walk a tightrope.