President Cyril Ramaphosa has foiled secretary-general Ace Magashule's alleged plans to assign powerful parliamentary positions to his allies, who are also supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, the Sunday Times reports.
Magashule flew to Cape Town for a caucus meeting last week Wednesday shortly after a meeting with the party's top six, where the list of committee chairs was discussed. This apparently caught Ramaphosa and other party leaders off-guard as there was a lekgotla to be held in Pretoria on Thursday.
According to the report, Ramaphosa was warned on Wednesday by a parliamentary counsellor that Magashule was set to make an announcement on the chairs of portfolio committees and the whippery, despite the list not yet having been endorsed by the party's national leadership as well as alliance partners.
The move was apparently seen as a fight back by the "Magashule faction", after they were left off key ministerial positions. Ramaphosa apparently put a stop to the meeting, while MPs were en route, the publication reported.
When asked about is reasons for travelling to Cape Town a day before the lekgotla, Magashule told Sunday Times that he was there just to consult.
When asked about why the meeting was cancelled abruptly, he said he was not ready to make his presentation.
"I was just consulting because I was not ready. I had to consult the whips."
This is despite a meeting memo reportedly being sent to MPs earlier that week on Tuesday, which had "deployment to portfolio committees and whippery" on its agenda, the publication reported.
The party's chief whip Pemmy Majodina told the Sunday Times the reason that the meeting was cancelled was due to the growing number of resignations by MPs. She reportedly denied cancelling the meeting on Ramaphosa's instruction.
According to the publication, she said the resignations "disorganised the set up" because some of the people who left, had been on the list.
"Therefore we could not go ahead when we were supposed to revisit all that was done in the past. We had to manage that properly" because they could not go to caucus with a "half-cooked list," the publication reported.
According to Sunday Times, Magashule's proposed list would have seen the following MPs taking over chair positions:Faith Mutambi - Justice Committee chairMosebenzi Zwane - Transport Committee chairSupra Mahumapelo - Co-operative governance chair Tandi Mahambehlala - Chair of chairs Bongani Bongo - International Relations Committee chairJoe Maswanganyi - Public Enterprises Committee chair
A source reportedly told the publication that there had been a fight over who to appoint as head of the justice committee as well as the joint standing committee on intelligence, this was reportedly because the "Magashule faction" feared Ramaphosa may use these arms to "deal with his rivals".
Magashule had reportedly also planned on taking control of the justice committee to protect Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from possibly being impeached, taking over the finance committee to make sure that the SA Reserve Bank was nationalised and its mandate was changed, as well as to take of the public enterprises committee to frustrate Ramaphosa's Eskom plans, the paper reported.
The relationship between Ramaphosa and Magashule has been tense, with recent developments within party structures only adding more pressure to the already strained relationship.
Earlier this month, Magashule contradicted president Cyril Ramaphosa over the party's position on the SA Reserve Bank.
Magashule had initially told the media, during a briefing on the outcomes of the NEC lekgotla, that the party had reaffirmed its commitment to expanding the mandate of the Reserve Bank.
He said according to the ANC's Nasrec conference, the party had resolved that the Reserve Bank should be 100% owned by the state.
In an attempt to quell public outcry and confusion, Ramaphosa released a statement on the matter, saying: "The officials emphasised the policy positions of the ANC on the independence and role of the SARB as set out in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa [which is] protecting 'the value of the currency in the interest of balanced and sustainable economic growth".
A few days later a tweet was sent from his account repeating what he had said to the media, but in this tweet, he had CC-ed Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
The tweet was quickly taken down, with Magashule claiming it was "fake".
In another blow to their relationship, last week News24 reported that the ANC was launching a probe into allegations that Magashule was involved in the formation of the ATM - a rival political party - ahead of last month's general elections.
Although Magashule has not been named in the short statement that the party released on the matter, he is linked to the creation of the ATM by Buyisile Ngqulwana, the South African Council of Messianic Churches' secretary-general.
The ANC said that an ad-hoc committee - comprising former president Kgalema Motlanthe, former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala and advocate Fezeka Magano - would lead the investigation.
This has caused even more divisions within the party.
Attempts to reach the ANC for comment have not been successful.