Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has penned a stinging open letter to former president Thabo Mbeki in which he dubbed him "the confirmed face of a campaign to denigrate insult and adjudicate on me".
The 2923-word missive, widely circulating in ANC platforms on social media, was triggered by Mbeki's critical comments of Magashule's leadership abilities. Mbeki made the comments at an ANC meeting in East London last month.
Magashule concluded his note with a veiled warning that: "We haven't forgotten you. At the right time I will tell South Africans how you persuaded me for a third term towards Polokwane, when you sent two of your confidantes, one of them is an ambassador today and the other is a retired minister."
City Press has learnt that the backstory to Magashule's third term threats involves the ambassador to Japan, Smuts Ngonyama and Essop Pahad, former minister in the presidency.
The story goes that in the lead up to the ANC's 2007 national elective conference in Polokwane, Limpopo, where Mbeki was to be humiliated after losing the ANC presidency to former president Jacob Zuma, both Ngonyama and Pahad were ANC national executive committee deployees to the Free State in an arrangement that gained the special name of "presidency deployment".
He played along up until the end, so Mbeki has never forgiven Ace for that.ANC insider
It was called "presidency deployment" because Ngonyama was then spokesperson in Mbeki's ANC presidency office, while Pahad was minister in the presidency. The duo was therefore widely regarded as the big guns and seen as Mbeki's closest confidantes.
As Polokwane drew closer, City Press learnt, Ngonyama and Pahad allegedly lobbied Magashule to support Mbeki's re-election for a third term as ANC president. However, Magashule strung them along and declared his undying support for Mbeki, only to make a U-turn on the conference floor, instead delivered the Free State vote to Zuma.
"He played along up until the end, so Mbeki has never forgiven Ace for that. They had deployed the presidency of the ANC and the presidency of the country to win over his support. Ace outsmarted him. Had Free State agreed on the third term Mbeki would have most probably won in Polokwane," according to an insider with intimate knowledge of the history between the two ANC bigwigs.
The wounds of 14 years ago have seemingly been reopened, with Magashule's back now against the wall after the ANC temporarily removed him from office pending the conclusion of the criminal case against him. Magashule faces charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to the R255 million asbestos audit contract.
Mbeki has now broken his reticence to speak on public affairs, taking Magashule to task for challenging his suspension in court.
The gloves are now off.
What Mbeki said:
"Ace Magashule was the provincial chair of the ANC, but it seemed, to us, that we could not appoint him as premier. So, he remained provincial chair because the ANC had elected him."
News24 reported that Mbeki said there were people who "wear ANC T-shirts and they say viva and viva, and they know all of the songs, and they toyi-toyi and all of that, but are they ANC?"
He said those who wanted to stand for a position in the ANC "are making a commitment to be a loyal servant in the ANC" and "an agent for change".
Mbeki questioned if someone such as Magashule fitted the bill. "When you say that you are this servant of the people, this agent for change - practically how does it manifest itself, in the way in which the government operates and in the way in which individuals operate? You get people at national level who openly defy the decision of the NEC, even taking the ANC to court to challenge the NEC. What is that?"
So, if you felt me disqualified to lead, I am hardly the first between the two of us since your father saw you not fit for reasons he knew.Ace Magashule
What Magashule said:
"Comrade Mbeki, your political posture at a narrow-angle details one obsessed to continue your prism of an ANC that has yourself unfortunately as the maximum symbol of perfection and astute leadership. In a season when you equally claimed such leadership and disrespected the sitting leadership of your successor, the then secretary-general Gwede Mantashe responded, permit me to paraphrase, 'Mbeki must stop pretending they left things in the ANC in order, we are still mopping up their mess'.
"This notion of self-worship and lack of self-critique, usually associated with youthful bliss, unfortunately, details the sunset years of you as a leader who somehow is spoiled to assume you in uniqueness is entitled to be treated differently to all others for who you are.
"Shall I remind you, Comrade Mbeki, to go back with us down memory lane? It aches me to remind you, when your name was mentioned to become Comrade [Nelson] Mandela's deputy, how your father, the late stalwart Oom [Uncle] Govan Mbeki expressed grave concerns and reservations seeing you not fit to lead the ANC.
When you take your aim at me today, it is not exempted from your deep-seated bitterness towards one that you, in your claimed aristocratic mind, deemed an uneducated peasant, Jacob Zuma.Ace Magashule
"So, if you felt me disqualified to lead, I am hardly the first between the two of us since your father saw you not fit for reasons he knew.
"My Comrade, you obviously and conveniently forget that you singularly was responsible for the notion of an ANC denialism on the existence of HIV and its linkages to Aids. This denialism, better understood in the luxury of apparent elitist independent thinking, came at a high price, losing in excess of 300 000 mostly black lives.
"Yet, you my Comrade, until today, have never apologised for this dastard act on your part of a crime against the black masses. A crime that amplified the advocating of beetroot as the answer to an HIV/Aids pandemic ... ideally, you ought to have been sent to Hague [International Criminal Court] to account for those lives.
"I [Magashule] don't have blood on my hands. When you take your aim at me today, it is not exempted from your deep-seated bitterness towards one that you, in your claimed aristocratic mind, deemed an uneducated peasant, Jacob Zuma, the 13th president [of the ANC]. Zuma twice elected as the ANC president irks you to this day. I dare state here and now, for the record, you fight with me because you, in essence, are still fighting your defeat.
"It is Polokwane nostalgia that drives you. You see me as the extension of your prime enemy Jacob G Zuma and cannot stomach that I show regard for the president Zuma ... I am afraid you are a bitter and angry soul, one robbing himself from finding solace or redemption because you, unfortunately, cannot self-introspect with the hope of apologising, an essential reality of life.
"We, the matured and forgiving comrades protected you from accounting on the formation of Congress of the People [which your mother was a member of], HIV/Aids denialism, arms deal and assaulting women [Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela], of which all of them were treasonous.
"Imagine if we had asked you to step aside on all the above counts? I regret that we allowed you to escape those."