The Africa National Congress (ANC) will launch an investigation into Ace Magashule’s alleged involvement in the formation of the African Transformation Movement (ATM).
Three sources with direct knowledge of events have confirmed to News24 that former president and ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe will lead the investigation. His panel is still to be finalised but is said to include former speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala.
Magashule, the ANC’s current secretary-general, is suspected of having played a key role in the formation of ATM, of which Mzwanele Manyi is the most prominent member. It's even believed he recommended the word "movement" be included as part of the party’s name.
Evidence detailing the involvement of Magashule was apparently handed to the ANC’s leadership by disgruntled ATM members ahead of the May 8 election in an attempt to have the party removed from the ballot.
On Monday, the party’s leadership, including the top six officials, tasked its National Working Committee (NWC) with managing the logistics of the investigation. Sources have told News24 the decision to investigate Magashule was "not new" and that it was part of decisions taken by the party’s National Executive Committee recently.
"This is not new; it was a decision made at the NEC and Ace approved it to clear his name. The NWC was given a task to handle the logistics and come back with details," said an insider.
"It goes back to what we are talking about on stripping powers. Given that he is compromised and there is doubt around the credibility of his office, he must comply. I imagine he thinks his powers are being usurped," continued the source, referring to reports that the top six leadership were in discussion to strip Magashule of some of his powers, including communication.
A member of the NWC, who did not want to be named, told News24 the party leadership updated members on developments around allegations against Magashule.
"The officials met last week and recommended to the NWC that Motlanthe investigate the claims. We as the NWC agreed and said Kgalema must investigate this matter expeditiously," one NWC said.
Another NWC insider said some in the meeting had however described the allegations levelled against the ANC secretary-general as "treasonous."
The officials are expected to draw up terms of reference for the stalwarts investigating the matter, with some in the NWC wanting to see this done speedily.
Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma have been accused of having had a hand in the establishment of the ATM and seeking to weaken the party. The ATM secured two seats in the National Assembly.
ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula has denied links to the two ANC leaders, insisting it was started by African Christian churches in the Eastern Cape.
One NEC member who said Magashule was dangerous for the organisation and believed the plan was to use ATM votes to barter with the ANC.
"They wanted us to not get a majority, they wanted to come to the ANC with the votes saying we will help you if you leave the old man alone," the NEC member said, referring to Zuma, who is facing a range of legal battles.
Another NEC member said the investigation was not just about Magashule and the ATM but to broadly look at the small parties that mushroomed ahead of the polls overall.
"Yes, this thing is not just about the secretary-general but to broadly study the small parties and check whether comrades were involved," he said.