/ 5 May 2021

Magashule and parliamentarians will continue to receive cushy salaries during suspensions

Ace Magashule And Co Accused Return To Court In Bloemfontein
The ANC national working committee (NWC) has thrown suspended secretary general Ace Magashule one more lifeline after the structure opted not to seek his expulsion, and instead to engage with him. (Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images)

ANC secretary general (SG) Ace Magashule will continue to earn his cushy R133 000 monthly salary when his suspension is effected this week, the ANC confirmed to the Mail & Guardian

Party spokesperson Pule Mabe told the M&G that members who have chosen to step aside from their parliamentary duties, as well as those that are suspended as officials, would continue to earn their salaries during this time. 

“Stepping aside does not mean you are unelected. It does not mean stepping down … If the SG steps aside, he is still the secretary general so, typically, he will just be taking a leave of absence,” Mabe said. 

“The intention of stepping aside is to allow you space to deal with your case without dragging the party. It was done out of trying to correct the impression of the ANC being a corrupt organisation or that it’s led by people who are accused of being corrupt. The only way we could regain public confidence is to introduce measures that show society we are serious about moral leadership.” 

This means that MPs like Bongani Bongo, who is currently paid R1 495 755 a year, will be enjoying their lavish salaries from the comfort of their homes. 

Bongo’s salary as an MP is supplemented with additional earnings for his position as the chairperson of the legislature’s portfolio committee on home affairs.

Bongo told the M&G on Tuesday that he was considering his legal options regarding the step-aside instruction. The Western Cape high court acquitted him on charges of allegedly trying to bribe former parliamentary law adviser Nthuthuzelo Vanara in 2017 to compromise a parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom.

Members of provincial legislatures, such as  Zandile Gumede in KwaZulu-Natal and Sindiswa Gomba in the Eastern Cape, earn R1 101 348 a year.  

Gumede has also indicated that she will not be stepping aside. 

The two provincial leaders both face court charges related to fraud and corruption. 

Gomba was fired in February as Eastern Cape MEC for health after she was charged with fraud, corruption and money-laundering for her alleged role in embezzling about R10-million in Buffalo City municipal funds officially destined for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Gumede is fighting fraud and corruption charges for her role in a corrupt Durban Solid Waste refuse-collection contract, valued at R320-million. The case is expected to go to trial this year. She tendered her resignation in 2019, under pressure from the ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal, but withdrew it a week later. She was finally removed for poor management of the municipality.

Previously, the M&G reported on how suspended presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko has continued to earn R1.3-million a year after taking special leave 10 months ago. 

Diko was charged with failing to disclose her financial interests. These charges emanate from an Special Investigating Unit investigation after reports emerged that her now late husband Thandisizwe Madzikane II Diko was awarded a R125-million tender to supply personal protective equipment to the Gauteng health department. She has appealed the order by the Gauteng ANC’s disciplinary committee for her to step aside.  

Political analyst Ongama Mtimka said the step-aside matter falls under labour relations and that party leaders must deal with it at an administrative level, with all parties bound by the employer-employee relationship. He added that the process of justice is defined and must be respected. 

“Because the conduct that is being frowned upon here is not one of virtue, in that way it becomes unjust,” Mtimka said. “You want people who must vacate offices based on this conduct to feel the full might of justice, but when the process itself of bringing them to book or has not culminated in a decisive outcome, you cannot at a state level punish them for what, from a party, is a moral and ethical argument.” 

On Monday, the M&G reported that the national working committee would be sending suspension letters to those refusing to step aside, including Magashule.