Warring factions in the ANC in support of President Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule might need to accept unity in the governing party is elusive and the need to break away from the ANC to start their own political party.

This is the view of political analyst Professor Lesiba Tefu who on Monday said he was not hopeful the party’s national executive committee (NEC) – which met at the weekend during an ordinary session – could reach an agreement on its “step aside” guidelines.

New rules adopted by the NEC in February could see Magashule and other ANC members who face criminal charges asked to vacate their positions until their names are cleared.

“A limping ANC is not good for the country. It gets defocused and consumed by the internal strife. If they can find each other, that’s fine and good, but that’s too much to ask for to be honest. It is just too much to ask but otherwise, it’s never too late to do the right thing but I’m not optimistic,” Tefu told The Citizen.

ALSO READ: ANC NEC in ‘chaos’ as Magashule refuses to step down

The virtual NEC meeting descended into chaos after Magashule’s supporters in the radical economic transformation (RET) camp reportedly opposed a decision that he and others facing criminal charges should step aside within seven days or face suspension.

This is said to be behind the postponement of Ramaphosa’s eagerly awaited closing address to the NEC on Sunday at 6pm.

Tefu said infighting among ANC leaders over the “step aside” rule and corruption allegations had left the party “limping” and this was not good for South Africa and the overall running of government.

“The people are the losers in the main when the ANC is limping and consumed by factional battles. And if you like, the soul of the ANC itself has been tormented.”

He said one of the factions might need to consider breaking away from the party, but that was unlikely because they all needed the ANC’s election machinery to succeed at the polls.

“They might have to accept with the passage of time that perhaps they must concede that unity is difficult based on the strong evidence and almost irreconcilable differences that they should go separate ways.”

“Again, who’s going to take the lead because they all need the ANC brand? Neither of the two factions can survive without the brand.

“But some might say: ‘let’s go and start afresh’ however few or small they might be. But that option would not be attractive to the careerists, tenderpreneurs [and] all those in the queue aspiring for tenders and positions.”

Tefu said South Africans had seen the ANC call for unity among its ranks many times before and this has clearly not worked out.

“They can make as much noise as they please but when they are faced with the demarche of power, they always find ways to work together for the sack of retaining power, not for the benefit of the country or the poorest of the poor in whose names they purport to act,” he said.

NEC to meet again on Monday

After failing to reach a consensus on the “step aside” guidelines, the NEC is expected to meet again on Monday evening to deliberate further on the rules.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed to The Citizen the virtual meeting would reconvene at 7pm. He declined to comment on the NEC discussions.

“We’ll communicate all decisions of the ANC once we are done,” Mabe said.

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