President Cyril Ramaphosa has signalled that ANC secretary general Ace Magashule must step down because of the corruption charges against him.

Ramaphosa was addressing the ANC National Executive Committee.

In a strongly worded statement he said the ANC increasingly appeared “like an organisation at war with itself”.

The party’s factions have positioned themselves over the battle of whether Magashule – and others charged with corruption – get pushed out while on trial.

“Divisions are becoming more apparent and factions are emerging once again,” Ramaphosa said.

At the party’s 57th conference in 2017, the ANC resolved that leaders facing criminal charges should step aside from their positions until they had cleared their names.

Magashule and parliamentary home affairs chair Bongani Bongo have refused to quit despite facing corruption charges. 

So their factions have fielded legal opinions on the legality of the 2017 resolution.

Ramaphosa said he was amazed that lawyers would be called in to argue such an obvious point.

“In the documentation for this NEC, we are provided with no fewer than five legal opinions on the implementation of our so-called ‘stepping aside’ resolution. 

“I am certain that there are none among us who ever would have said that the deliberations of the national executive committee would have come to this.

“We have sought these legal opinions and they may assist us in clarifying what is not certain to some among us. 

“But if we are to reflect on the proud and glorious history of our movement over more than a century — on the great leaders who have guided it through the most difficult and perilous times it is difficult not to see these five legal opinions as an indictment of the movement we have become.”

Soon it will be clear whether the ANC fudges again – or takes the action the President wants it to.