Ace Magashule: Story lacks credibility. Picture: AFP/Gianluigi Guercia
Ace Magashule: Story lacks credibility. Picture: AFP/Gianluigi Guercia

Ace Magashule’s story that he happened to bump into deposed North West premier Supra Mahumapelo in the lobby of a hotel where he was chatting, as one does, to former president Jacob Zuma, appears to have hit a crisis of credibility.

The Sunday Times reported that the three – and several other members of the pro-Zuma faction – held two meetings in KwaZulu-Natal to discuss how to get rid of Cyril Ramaphosa for being damn inconsiderate in the way he was clamping down on corruption.

This week Ramaphosa chose his old stomping ground, Cosatu’s national conference, to make it plain that he had his suspicions.

In time-honoured tradition, he did not mention Magashule in his speech to the conference. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out who he was talking about.

"We should not spend time on counter-revolutionary machinations of weakening this ANC, where either in dark corners or wherever we come up with machinations of weakening the ANC‚" said Ramaphosa.

And there was more. "Let me say this now: if there is going to be a plot‚ it must be a plot to defeat poverty. That must be the type of plot we want … a plot to end poverty in our country. If we are going to plan‚ let us plan the growth of our economy."

Ramaphosa, referring to the 2019 elections, added: "Just imagine we are going to war‚ we are going to a war of all wars, and then we start fighting among ourselves and we take guns and start shooting each other. What kind of army are we?"

Ramaphosa’s plea to Magashule to "tell us what your agenda is" will probably fall on deaf ears.

But the Magashule meeting and Ramaphosa’s response suggest that there are "shots fired", as they say on Twitter, on the top floors of Luthuli House.

The fact that Ramaphosa spoke out publicly in this fashion suggests that the heavier casualties are being suffered by the Zuma faction, which is running out of oxygen.

Even as Ramaphosa spoke, more shots were fired at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, where several of Zuma’s ministers were accused of trying to strong-arm Standard Bank into breaking the law so that the Guptas could continue to use its services despite a streak of irregular transactions.

Ramaphosa, it seems, has that powerful force — the tide of history — on his side.