JOHANNESBURG: Mr Ramaphosa-aligned NEC members want Mr Mashatile removed as acting secretary-general.
The African National Congress (ANC) president’s slate in the ANC National Executive Committee have called for Mr Paul Mashatile’s axing as the acting Secretary-General.
It was a Mr Gwede Mantashe, who is also the National Chairperson, who came to Mr Mashatile’s defense when Mr Cyril Ramaphosa’s handful supporters launched the attack on him.
The call to remove Mr Mashatile was made at Tuesday’s NEC meeting but was stifled because it was not on the agenda.
NEC sources say the group that wants Mr Mashatile to be ousted cited administrative reasons for their call, but strategically it appeared they do not want him at the helm in the build-up to the December elective conference.
It appears the move was first raised by ANC Eastern Cape secretary Mr Lulama Ngcukaitobi, who argued it would not make sense for Mr Mashatile to present two critical reports at the national conference in December.
“[Mr] Lulama is [asking whether] at the national conference … [Mr] Mashatile [IS] going to present the SGO report and also the treasurer’s report. But they have a legal problem because there is no vacancy in the SGO.
“The SG is there, he’s on step aside, he’s suspended. So it’s not a vacancy. The court can decide to drop all the charges tomorrow and say go back to work,” an NEC insider said.
Mr Ngcukaitobi is said to have been backed by Mr Derek Hanekom, Mr Mondli Gungubele and Mr Aaron Motsoaledi.
ANC national chair Mr Gwede Mantashe allegedly told the meeting the matter could not be entertained as it had not been properly processed and did not go through the working committee or the officials.
Mr Gungubele had allegedly said Mr Mashatile was overstretched, and could not even pay employees, and it is uncertain whether he will be able to pay for the national conference.
Another NEC source claimed, without elaborating, that it was not a surprise Mr Ngcukaitobi raised the matter, because the Eastern Cape has issues with Mr Mashatile.
Other NEC members are said to have spoken strongly against it, including Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is said to have questioned where the issue was coming from as she was satisfied with Mr Mashatile’s performance in the office.
Mr Hanekom is said to have suggested that Mr Gwen Ramokgopa, the co-ordinator in the secretary-general’s office, take over from Mr Mashatile.
However, Mr Ramokgopa is not an elected official and cannot take over. This was the same argument used earlier in 2022 before she was appointed co-ordinator.
“They won’t win it, it’s not possible and Derek, by coming up with the name of Gwen, is making it worse for people to see that there is a caucus here,” a source said.
“They are not going to win because they will get no support. First, legally there is no vacancy, so you can’t evoke section 10 of the constitution. The only way of filling a vacancy, which is what Nomvula was arguing, is to call an NGC, which is impossible now we’re going to conference. The process of nominating is starting, so there is no point,” the insider said.
Meanwhile, political anaylst Mr Matlala Setlhalogile believes this has everything to do with the Eastern Cape trying to push for Mr Oscar Mabuyane as a deputy president and Paul is seen as a stumbling block.
“Look, the Eastern Cape is pushing for Oscar to be the deputy president and Paul being untrustworthy within many camps, is suspected to be placing himself in that position,” Mr Setlhalogile said.
According to the insider, NEC member and head of organising Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, speaking against the move, argued that the only way to install someone in the secretary-general’s office is to call for a national general council (NGC).
Attempts to speak to ANC spokesperson Mr Pule Mabe were unsuccessful.