Sunday Times 19 May 2019
ANC Western Cape elections chief Ebrahim Rasool has become the latest party heavyweight to lash out at secretary-general Ace Magashule, saying he had an “extremely damaging” effect on the campaign in the province.
Rasool’s salvo is contained in a letter he wrote to the party’s top six officials, who include President Cyril Ramaphosa, just 12 days before the May 8 elections.
The letter, which was leaked this week, was also addressed to ANC national head of elections Fikile Mbalula.
In the scathing document, Rasool, who was appointed last year by Luthuli House to lead the ANC’s bid to oust the DA from power in the Western Cape, says Magashule’s involvement in the province was divisive and damaging, presenting more threats to the ANC’s campaign than its rivals did.
“It was disappointing that the challenges and threats have been more internal rather than external from the DA,” writes Rasool.
In the letter, dated April 26, Rasool accuses Magashule of instructing provincial structures, that he [Rasool] be ignored as elections chief and that only Magashule and Jacobs would be in charge of the campaign, as well as the distribution of financial resources and party paraphernalia such as T-shirts.
“This extraordinary and unprecedented intervention has been extremely damaging to the election campaign,” writes Rasool.
A video has emerged in which Magashule, with Jacobs next to him, tells an ANC meeting: “I’ve now taken charge of the T-shirts. I am now going to make sure by this week, every province [or region] gets T-shirts through the provincial secretary, not through the head of elections.”
Rasool also complains in the letter how his team was locked out of an ANC T-shirt warehouse after Magashule’s intervention.
In the run-up to the elections, Magashule spent a lot time in the Western Cape, visiting the province three times in April alone.
He courted controversy when he was captured on video giving a potential voter R400 after noticing her fridge was empty while campaigning in Philippi, on the Cape Flats, which ANC detractors described as vote-buying.
Magashule also raised eyebrows when he told voters not to vote an umlungu (white person) back into power because they were not prepared to change black lives.
The ANC this year received its lowest electoral support in the Western Cape since 1994, gaining only 28.6% of the votes, down from 32.8% in 2014.
Rasool goes on to say in the letter that following Magashule’s “interventions”, there were “unilateral changes” to the campaign programme and a departure from the party’s “nonracial ethic”.
“We in the Western Cape are excited about visits of any deployee, especially the Top 6, and we both welcome and plan for such visits to give maximum effect to our campaign,” he writes.
“But it is unfortunate when a deployee potentially sets our campaign back by giving a perception of buying votes or contradicting our nonracial ethic.”
Rasool has not denied writing the letter but declined to discuss it publicly. Mbalula also declined to comment on the matter. Magashule had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to print.
Rasool further says in the letter that since Magashule’s “intervention”, party funds had stopped flowing into the elections account. The funds were instead diverted into a provincial ANC account, with election structures receiving weekly allowances.
In another letter, this one in response to Jacobs, who had written to Rasool on March 4 telling him about changes to financial signatories on election spending, Rasool, a former South African ambassador to the US, accuses Jacobs of failing to account for part of the R1.9m raised by the province at a presidential gala dinner.
Jacobs had argued that as provincial office bearers they were accountable for election expenditure and that the provincial treasurer, Maurencia Gillion, should be added as a signatory.
But Rasool rejected the idea, telling Jacobs that of the R1.9m raised at the presidential dinner at the Pepper Club hotel in Cape Town, R350,000 could not be accounted for.
Jacobs, while insisting ANC finances were not for public discussion, has denied the allegations against him.
“If Comrade Rasool is alleging this to you directly, we request him to report his allegations and provide evidence to the relevant ANC structures rather than campaign through the media.”
Jacobs also dismissed allegations of him and Magashule running a parallel campaign, saying Rasool was an ANC employee accountable to him and the PEC.
“As an employee he was thus accountable to the elected leadership of the province [PEC] through the provincial secretary.
“Mr Rasool is an ANC comrade who is equal to all of us and we worked well. At times we differed on issues of strategy and tactics, but ultimately our objective was to serve the ANC together,” said Jacobs.