The FW de Klerk Foundation has welcomed the ANC’s decision to temporarily suspend its secretary-general, Ace Magashule, and other party members charged with corruption and other serious crimes.

In a statement on Wednesday, the foundation said the decision “can be seen as a consolidation of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s power in the ANC in the ongoing factional battles between Ramaphosa on the one side and former president Jacob Zuma and Magashule on the other”.

Magashule, who faces fraud and corruption charges in the Free State, was informed of his suspension in a letter dated 3 May 2021 by his deputy, Jessie Duarte, after the 30-day grace period given to him in March by the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) to step down voluntarily expired last week.

On Tuesday, the ANC’s national working committee (NWC), which implement’s the NEC’s decisions, met and reaffirmed the party’s 2017 conference resolution that all members charged with corruption and other serious crimes should step down from their positions or face suspension.

Meanwhile, ANC KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and the mayor of JB Marks Municipality in the North West, Kgotso Khumalo, have heeded the NEC’s call to step down from their posts.

The De Klerk Foundation said the implementation of the “step aside” resolution “should also be welcomed as an important and long overdue step to tackle corruption and take stern action against top ANC officials who stand accused of serious offences.”

The foundation added that the ANCs factional battles had negatively impacted governance and effective service delivery for far too long.

In a twist of event on Wednesday, a letter purportedly from Magashule’s office informing President Cyril Ramaphosa of his suspension surfaced.

In the letter, Magashule said Ramaphosa was facing allegations of vote buying during his CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency in 2017 and referred to the case before the Pretoria high court over the sealing of the campaign’s financial records.

The letter dated 3 May 2021 reads: “As stated above it has been reported cadre President that you and your Nasrec campaign team raised money in an attempt to get the branches to finally elect you as president of the ANC. It is common cause that this matter has been ventilated in our courts and the documents related thereto remain sealed. This particular matter relating to the sealing of the documents is pending before our courts”.

However, several ANC senior officials have disputed Magashule’s authority to suspend Ramaphosa.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said the matter would be discussed at the party’s special NEC meeting this coming weekend.