"Let's leave that matter" - Magashule on dairy farm milked by Guptas

Magashule has been implicated in the saga in his capacity as Free State Premier. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Magashule has been implicated in the saga in his capacity as Free State Premier. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has denied reaching any decision to recall president Jacob Zuma, but says the matter is still being discussed by party officials.

Reports surfaced over the weekend that the NEC has resolved to remove Zuma as state president following the convening of its two-day sitting which started on Thursday last week.

It was reported that the Zuma exit would involve a gradual phasing out of office, with ANC officials allegedly agreeing not to remove him in a manner that would cause harm to his dignity.

However in a press briefing at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters on Monday, secretary general Ace Magashule refuted claims of any agreement being reached or timelines being given to Zuma.

“The ANC discussed this matter and we all agreed that this matter is between officials and there will be interaction between officials, president Zuma and [ANC] president [Cyril] Ramaphosa. And there are no timelines,” Magashule said.

“We have not arrived at a decision that Zuma must go or Zuma must not go. It is you the media who says Zuma must go”.

It is believed however that the ANC is desperate for Zuma to vacate office before the 2019 national elections as it believes him to be bad for its electoral ambitions.

One of the other resolutions take by the NEC was the suspension of the provincial executive committees in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces which were both found to be unlawfully elected.

Magashule announced that interim task teams had been appointed and that structures would be notified later this week on who would be leading the efforts to reconvene elective conferences in the provinces.

“We will be in KZN tomorrow and the Free State on Wednesday to inform them about the NEC decisions. In the Free State we are re-running the 14 branches [that were found to be irregular] as the court ruled and we will be re-running the conference,” he said.

The NEC meeting was followed by a lekgotla meeting where alliance partners were also in attendance. The meeting focused on resolutions taken at the 54th national conference including free higher education and the decision to expropriate land without compensation.

On both points government was directed by the NEC to put in place clear frameworks for how the processes would be implemented.

While Magashule gave a briefing on the outcomes of the NEC gathering he skirted around the issue of the Estina dairy project in the Free State town of Vrede, in which he is implicated.

Last week, the national prosecuting authority’s (NPA) asset forfeiture unit seized the Gupta-linked farm in an effort to recover more than R1-billion in looted funds.

READ MORE: First direct blow against Guptas

According to reports, from 2013 to 2016, the Free State government gave Estina more than R200-million for the dairy project, which was established as a poverty alleviation initiative.

However, less than 1% of the money was spent on farming with the remainder allegedly siphoned to the Guptas. Magashule has been implicated in the saga in his capacity as Free State Premier. Mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane is also implicated as he served as rural development MEC at the time. In addition to the two, the role of one of Magashule’s sons has also come under question due to his close links to the Guptas.

“Whether it’s with Vrede Dairy or any other thing, the law must actually take its place. So let’s leave that matter, it’s with the NPA, it’s with the law enforcers. Whatever happens, we are actually reiterating the stance of the ANC that we need to fight corruption wherever it rears its head.”

“My son has been working for the Gupta’s it has never been a secret. It has never been a secret when I became premier it was not a secret. And my son is not involved in Vrede dairy. So let the law take its place,” Magashule said.

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