South Africa: Dealing With Ace - a Postponement Wrapped in a Delay Inside a Deferment of Possible Action, Maybe

Left: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Top-right: Ace Magashule. Bottom-right: Former president Jacob Zuma.

The announcement by the ANC's National Executive Committee that Ace Magashule will now 'present himself' to the party's Integrity Commission may be the start of a major shift in the ANC. But it could also be evidence that those who are intent on reforming the organisation have a long road to travel.

The issue around whether the ANC can actually act against its leaders and members who are accused, charged or convicted of corruption is an existential one. If it cannot act against corrupt members, particularly someone in the party's top six national officials, then it will lose the trust of those who vote for it.

At the National Executive Committee's (NEC) latest meeting, from Sunday to Tuesday, the anti-Ace members were simply too weak to force Magashule to step down, despite the obvious reputational damage the criminal charges against the ANC's secretary-general are causing to the party. The cost of this will be a continued weakening of the party's central political authority, to possibly beyond a point at which a serious and respected political force can recover.

It is for this reason that the party's delegates, at Nasrec in 2017, voted, again, that those implicated in corruption must step...

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