Africa

South Africa’s ruling ANC suspends secretary general

Charges against Ace Magashule relate to $15 million contract to remove asbestos from homes in poor neighborhoods

Hassan Isilow   | 06.05.2021
South Africa’s ruling ANC suspends secretary general South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) flag ( Shiraaz Mohamed - Anadolu Agency )

JOHANNESBURG 

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday suspended its powerful Secretary General, Ace Magashule, who faces charges of corruption but refused to step aside. 

The ANC's National Executive Committee passed a resolution at its meeting held from March 26-29 that any party official charged with corruption or any other serious crime should step aside within 30 days.

However, Magashule, who manages the party's daily affairs, refused to comply, citing his innocence.

The charges against Magashule relate to a $15 million contract to remove asbestos from homes in poor neighborhoods in the Free State province, where he served as premier from 2009 to 2018. He denies involvement in corruption.

Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte informed Magashule in a letter dated May 3 that he had been temporarily suspended and was not allowed to represent the organization, carry out his duties or mobilize party structures.

In response, an upset Magashule said he was using his powers as secretary general to also suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in full compliance with the relevant conference resolutions.

Magashule, an arch rival of Ramaphosa and a known supporter of former President Jacob Zuma, also challenged the powers that his deputy Duarte had in writing his suspension letter.
“It is evident that the deputy secretary general does not have the authority to issue such letters. Thus, the letter is fatally flawed, and in fact unconstitutional,” he said, adding he would appeal his suspension.

Several officials of the ruling ANC, in power since 1994, have been accused of corruption, staining the integrity of the liberation movement that fought apartheid, bringing democracy to the most developed economy on the continent.

Analysts say the party’s new tough stance on corruption is a move to cleanse itself of chronic graft within its ranks and win back public support ahead of local government elections.

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