Newly elected ANC secretary general, ANC Free State chairperson and premier Ace Magashule has been deployed out of the province, but he is still running the show, according to disgruntled ANC members.
ANC members in the Free State want Magashule to remove himself from their upcoming provincial elective conference, and for Luthuli House to disband a task team set up to organise the conference, which they say it being run by Magashule's friends. Magashule was elected secretary-general of the ANC in December, just after the ANC in the Free State's provincial conference was declared unlawful in court.
On Monday, ANC members told Daily Maverick that Magashule's faction is still in charge in the province, despite his deployment to the national office. ANC members reportedly went to Luthuli House on Monday to request that Magashule be removed from the preparations for the upcoming provincial conference.
A task team was put together in January to oversee the conference preparations, but some ANC members say the team is stacked with Magashule's supporters, Daily Maverick reported.
Magashule is the "hidden hand" behind the conference preparations, Free State ANC Member Sello Dithebe reportedly said.
Dithebe reportedly said that the "euporia" brought about by president Cyril Ramaphosa's election will be squandered if factions in the party are not dealt with, and said that all the candidates recommended to take over from Magashule as Free State premier are part of his faction.
Former ANC Free State treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana led the delegation which visited Luthuli House on Monday, according to News24. Dukwana reportedly said the provincial task team was taking decisions on behalf of the party, like on the deployment of people to various positions in government, without a mandate to do so.
According to The Star, at least 50 ANC members arrived at Luthuli House on Monday carrying signs that read, "To Hell With Magashule And The PTT (provincial task team)" and "Magashule Must Go". Irvin Riet and Free State sub-region Matjhabeng municipality's Elijah Barayi branch secretary told The Star that Magashule wanted the provincial conference to be held with the same branches that were at the conference that was declared unlawful in December.
"So many branches in the Free State are still left behind. We are actually worried and dissatisfied about the composition of the PTT in the Free State because we can see that it represents a particular faction only. In fact the very same members who were part of the last provincial conference are the very same PEC members are the ones who are part of the [current] PTT. For us it is not inclusive," said Riet.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told News24 that the ANC had met with officials from the Free State and that the party would communicate its decisions "through the proper channels".