Magashule stands firm on RET support as he prepares to meet ANC elders

ANC secretary-general says he will soon meet Mathews Phosa and Jacob Zuma, and his office is setting up meetings with Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe

Ace Magashule: 'For as long as we are not free economically, the economy will always be in the hands of the white people and you as a black person will stay with no property, with Eskom [and] Pep store debt, and no land.' File photo.
Ace Magashule: 'For as long as we are not free economically, the economy will always be in the hands of the white people and you as a black person will stay with no property, with Eskom [and] Pep store debt, and no land.' File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has seemingly refused to back down, and has maintained his support for radical economic transformation.

Speaking on Wednesday at a 150th commemoration event for struggle stalwart Charlotte Maxeke in Kliptown, Soweto, Magashule told community members that RET was the way to go post the apartheid regime — and that this was ANC policy that nobody could change.

This comes despite comments from ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa after a meeting of the powerful, decision-making national executive committee (NEC) that “no ANC member should associate themselves with or be involved in” the so-called RET forces.

Ramaphosa also condemned the use of party resources and premises to do the work of the RET faction — which came in the wake of reports that RET backer Carl Niehaus was using Magashule's office at the ANC's Luthuli House headquarters to lobby for the group.

But Magashule did not hide his support for RET on Wednesday.

“For as long as we are not free economically, the economy will always be in the hands of the white people and you as a black person will stay with no property, with Eskom [and] Pep store debt, and no land.

“What do you have after all the struggle? What do you have? Why are you quiet? Why do you think radical economic transformation is not our policy position because it doesn’t start with Nasrec? It has been there in the Freedom Charter. We must all share the wealth of SA. The wealth of this  country must always be in the hands of the majority because it is important to do so.

“In 1994, when we took over power, we said we would provide free quality education. That, too, will never change. It is our policy,” Magashule said.

Magashule is one of the ANC leaders affected by the party's “step aside” ruling, which requires those facing serious charges — including corruption — to vacate their positions. He was formally charged in court last year for his alleged involvement in the R255m Free State asbestos roofing scandal and is out on bail.

“I'm ready to prove my innocence when the trial starts,” he said.

Magashule remained mum on whether he would step aside, as per the NEC resolution. Instead, he revealed that he would, as of this week, begin talks with party elders and former leaders.

“I am the SG of the ANC, elected at the congress, and I am still here. This weekend I will be meeting, starting with comrade Mathews Phosa, one of our veterans, and then by next week, I will be going to Nkandla. I will take it from there. My office is still scheduling a meeting with Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki.”

Asked if he was consulting on the step-aside issue, Magashule would not answer. He, however, revealed that after the consultations he would meet Ramaphosa and the NEC.

“There's no way I can do any other thing before I report back to the president and the NEC,” he said.  

The party remains divided on the step-aside rule. Magashule allies earlier threatened to resign en masse if he was removed from his position. This would likely force the party to go into early conference.

Asked for his views on this, Magashule said: “It can't be my decision. Conference decisions are decisions of the branches.”

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