Ace Magashule stays put despite corruption charges

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule will not stand aside from his party post, despite a warrant issued for his arrest on corruption charges linked to the R255-million Free State asbestos scandal.

Instead, the fate of the most powerful figure in Luthuli House will only be discussed by the governing party’s leadership when its national executive committee (NEC) meets again.

This despite the resolution by the party’s 54th national conference — and the NEC itself earlier this year — that leaders charged with corruption or other serious offences should stand aside from their state and party roles until the conclusion of their criminal matter.

Magashule, the former Free State premier and ANC chairperson, will appear in court in Bloemfontein on Friday morning after being served with a warrant of arrest on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the ANC’s top officials told a media briefing that although Magashule had briefed the rest of the top six about the arrest warrant on Tuesday night, they had not  discussed whether he should step aside in line with the NEC ruling.

Treasurer general Paul Mashatile, who addressed the briefing together with deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, said the meeting “did not discuss that”.

“The secretary general briefed us about the letter he had received from law-enforcement agencies, and the fact that he will co-operate and go to court on Friday. The issue of stepping down is a matter that the NEC is seized with. We are sure it will be discussed at the next NEC,” Mashatile said.

Duarte said Magashule had “expressed his preference” that ANC members should not make T-shirts and hold marches in his support when he appears in court.

Duarte said ANC members could attend in their individual capacity, but that the officials, including herself and Mashatile, would not attend because it would be impossible to divorce themselves from their organisational office.

Turning to calls for protest action by Magashule supporters, including Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus, Mashatile said they should refrain from making such comments.

“We would discourage members from saying such things,” Mashatile said. “We need to call for calm in this period, now that emotions are running high. It is important that the leadership continues to call on our members to remain calm.”

Duarte said the NEC was now reviewing the “stand aside” rule because of its legal implications for leaders who were removed on the basis of charges and later acquitted. 

Legal advice was being sought about how to go ahead, with proposals to be tabled at the next NEC meeting.

Duarte said they would not attend Magashule’s court appearance as there was a need to defuse tensions in the Free State, rather than inflaming them.

“There are huge tensions. We cannot be party to creating any further division. We have to respect the NEC decisions,” she said.

Earlier in the day, the other accused in the asbestos case, including tenderpreneur Edwin Sodi and former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court. The case was adjourned for further investigation until February 19, when Magashule will join the first group of accused.

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Related stories

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court hears

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

CR17 report is not perfect, but the investigation was rational, court hears

So says public protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s lawyer, who said she had reason to suspect the money was being laundered through the campaign

Editorial: Political meddling won’t save the SABC

For years, in moves that harked back to the repressive regime of the Nats, the public broadcaster has been used by the party as its political football in internal factional battles, or to censor dissent.

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Covid-19 info lags as cases shoot up

Vital information apps and websites are outdated as cases begin to mushroom, especially near the coast, just in time for the December holidays

DA leader bought wife a car with ‘corruption’ earnings

Senior Ekurhuleni councillor Shabangu purchased a Ford SUV from an alleged R1.2-million kickback

SAA funds may need a top-up

Industry experts predict the R10.5-billion from the treasury to rescue the airline may not be enough, but the rescue practitioners say the money is enough to ‘settle the sins of the past’

Trump’s mantra of ‘fake news’ harmed media

Viewers and readers need to trust that news outlets are accurate, balanced, fair and impartial

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…