ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. FILE PHOTO: News365

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule’s future hangs in the balance following a heated meeting of the party’s national working committee (NWC) on Monday to discuss the contentious step-aside resolution.

Inside Politics understands that Magashule’s supporters have thrown their weight behind the party’s Secretary General to stay put in his position despite the majority of the NWC members insisting he must go.

The NWC meeting comes ahead of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting which is expected to take place this coming weekend.

The meeting of the NWC was called to consider reports from provinces of the names of members who are affected by the step-aside resolution.

The NWC will compile a consolidated report that will then be sent to the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Magashule refuses to step down voluntarily despite the party’s NEC ruling that those facing criminal charges must step aside or face suspension.

Magashule has been charged over an R255 million Free State asbestos tender.

Other ANC members facing criminal charges include former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, former Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, ANC KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza.

However, Magashule supporters are saying the step aside resolution was designed to deal decisively with the Secretary General and expel him from the party while other leaders facing corruption allegations such as ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy president David Mabuza and the party’s national chairperson Gwede Mantashe are shielded.

Factions linked to Magashule, including the controversial Radical Economic Transformation (RET) grouping, have threatened to go to court if the step-aside resolution is implemented.

The Free State’s Fezile Dabi region has also threatened to interdict the NEC if it forces Magashule out.

During his campaign trail this weekend, ANC NEC member and justice minister Ronald Lamola, a close Ramaphosa ally, said those charged must call a media briefing and voluntarily step aside.

He said ANC must deal decisively with ‘charlatans’ in the party who move up and down the country raising conspiracy theories about the judiciary while hiring ‘white’ lawyers to represent in court.

“When they go to court they don’t raise these issues. Comrades mustn’t do naughty things and hope to mobilize sympathy [in the ANC branches],” said Lamola.

Treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told the media last week that most of the reports from various provinces were in and that the NWC would consider these ahead of the NEC meeting this weekend.

Last week, Magashule paid a last-minute visit to former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, two weeks after going to Nkandla with some of his allies to meet former president Jacob Zuma.

Party spokesperson Pule Mabe could not be reached for comment but has told the SABC in an interview that the NEC “will pronounce itself on the implementation [of the step aside resolution] and operationalisation of that decision”.

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