No decision on SG stepping down

Ace Magashule pledges to play ball

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule told Soweto residents during his door-to-door campaign that he is ready to face the magistrate in Bloemfontein.
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule told Soweto residents during his door-to-door campaign that he is ready to face the magistrate in Bloemfontein.
Image: Gallo Images/Fani Mahuntsi

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has assured the party's top six leaders that he will cooperate with law enforcement agencies as they are due to haul him before the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on corruption charges, on Friday.

This would make Magashule the most senior and serving ANC official yet to be charged with corruption stemming from the state capture era.

Magashule's deputy Jessie Duarte and ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said the party's chief administrator made the undertaking at a Tuesday night virtual meeting of the ANC top six leaders, which include President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe was the only member of the top six who missed the meeting as he was flying.

Magashule met the ANC top officials after the Hawks confirmed that he had been summoned to appear in court tomorrow on charges related to his alleged involvement in corruption during the awarding of the R255m asbestos tender in the Free State in 2014 when he was still premier.

Mashatile and Duarte also told journalists that Magashule would continue with his functions at Luthuli House because the issue of him stepping aside as he fights his legal battles was not raised at the meeting.

This was because the national executive committee of the ANC was still finalising guidelines related to the "step aside  rule",  even when this was an adopted conference resolution from 2017.

The step aside rule has also been challenged by other ANC leaders facing criminal charges such as MP Bongani Bongo and former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, who are both regarded as Magashule's political allies within the context of ANC factionalism.

Magashule has long argued that law enforcement agencies were targeting him for political ends, but on Tuesday he told the ANC top officials that he would cooperate.

Ahead of his meeting with party officials, he said at a party door-to-door campaign in Soweto that the “enemy has infiltrated the ANC".

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But Mashatile said Magashule did not raise these issues during their meeting. “No he didn’t. All what the SG said was that he will cooperate with the law enforcement agencies. He did not complain about them targeting him or anything of that sort,” Mashatile said.

“No, we did not discuss that [Magashule stepping down], the SG briefed us about the letters he has received from law enforcement agencies and the fact that he will cooperate and he will go to court on Friday,” Mashatile said. 

Duarte said Magashule told them that his charges related to his failure to conduct adequate oversight on the multi-million million tender during his tenure as Free State premier.

Magashule is expected to hand himself over at the Hawks offices in Bloemfontein tomorrow before proceeding to the magistrate’s court, where he is scheduled to appear. 

A warrant signed yesterday indicates that Magashule faces charges of corruption related to the contravention of section 34, 3 and 4 of act 12 of the Criminal Procedure Act. 

ANC members wishing to support Magashule in court will be allowed under strict conditions that they do not wear official party regalia.

Mashatile also called on ANC members to desist from calling for action against law enforcement agencies. 

This was after ANC Ekurhuleni regional chairperson and mayor, Mzwandile Masina, called for a civil unrest. 

Masina, another Magashule ally, made the call in a tweet, which he has since deleted, claiming that law enforcement agencies were being used as political tools. 

“I didn’t hear that statement,” Mashatile said. "But obviously we will discourage our members saying such things because we need to call for calm in this period. We know that emotions are running high and I think it’s important that the leadership continues to call on our members to remain calm under the situation.

“We will not interfere with the state law enforcement agencies, we regard them as independent. We will ask from all our members to cooperate with these processes. Let’s allow comrade SG to be in a position to get his name cleared and he has said himself he will cooperate with law enforcement agencies. So we expect that from all our members to do the same, including comrade Masina.” 

On November 10 2020, the Hawks issued a warrant of arrest for ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. In October, seven others were arrested relating to the same multimillion-rand asbestos removal tender Magashule is being investigated for. Here's what you need to know about the Hawks' arrests and warrant for Magashule.

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