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CAPE TOWN — It’s the showdown everyone’s been waiting for and a test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s mettle and political strength – the NEC tomorrow thrashes out the controversial Durban beachfront meeting between key top Zuma backers in that alleged bid to plot Ramaphosa’s downfall. It’s hardly likely to be an Et tu Brute’ moment as the lines of division are clearly drawn with alleged plotters, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and ousted North West Province Premier Supra Mahumapelo – both historically solid Zuptoids – more likely to drop Zuma than Ramaphosa. Of course, that’s if our reading that the internal winds of change are blowing in Ramaphosa’s direction are correct. Every week that passes with further outrageous State Capture revelations emerging from the Zondo and Nugent commissions quickens the Good Ship Cyril as it ploughs through rough seas the likes of which few leaders would dare take on. Ramaphosa’s not the type to be blindsided in this game of political survival, but he’s up against some wily and ruthless opponents who’ve had a good taste of the illicit fruits of power. – Chris Bateman
The party has been rocked by revelations of a meeting between its secretary-general, Ace Magashule, and former President Jacob Zuma, allegedly to discuss how to replace Ramaphosa. Magashule admitted that he had met Zuma and other officials in Durban on Sept. 6 as reported by the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper, but said the talks were about party “organisational issues.”
The National Executive Committee, the ANC’s top decision-making body after its five-yearly national congress, will debate the issue at a three-day meeting starting on Sept. 28, according to the people who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorised to talk publicly on the topic.
Magashule also held talks or met with other party officials and members including Supra Mahumapelo, a Zuma backer who was ousted as the premier of the North West province.
The Sunday Times said that Zuma, Magashule and other top officials held a secret meeting where they discussed ways to remove Ramaphosa as leader of both the party and the nation. The ANC forced Zuma to resign as president in February and replaced him with Ramaphosa, who was elected party leader by a slim margin in December.
Mahumapelo and Magashule were part of a bloc of key supporters of Zuma during his scandal-marred nine-year tenure and had backed his favoured candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed him as ANC president.
Ramaphosa lambasted his detractors on Sept. 17 and urged party members to focus on the general elections to be held next year.
“We should not spend our time on counter-revolutionary machinations in dark corners that undermine the will of our people,” he said in a speech at a Congress of South African Trade Unions gathering.