ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/THE SOWETAN
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/THE SOWETAN

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s biggest political detractors, is resisting calls to step down after being charged with graft, alleging he’s unfairly being singled out.

The future of Magashule may feature on the agenda of a meeting of the party’s leadership at the weekend. The party’s national conference, its top decision-making structure, decided in 2017 that all officials who’ve been prosecuted should voluntarily vacate their posts, and the party’s ethics committee recommended that Magashule abide by the directive.

“I don’t know why people are so selective about the conference resolutions because it is not about Magashule,” he said in an interview on January 15. Other top officials, including Ramaphosa, were also implicated in wrongdoing, yet no action had been taken against them, he said.

Ramaphosa has struggled to assert his authority over the ANC since winning its presidency by a narrow margin in late 2017. Magashule, who was charged on November 13 with corruption, fraud and money-laundering, has continually undermined the Ramaphosa’s authority and his sidelining could tilt the balance of power in the party in the president’s favour.

A decision to suspend any official would have to be compliant with SA’s laws and not just those of the party, said Magashule, who’s due to make a second court appearance in February. He’s previously denied any wrongdoing and indicated he would not step aside unless convicted.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said in a 2019 report that Ramaphosa deceived parliament about a campaign donation— a finding that was overturned by the high court. The president said in an interview News24 last week that he would not hesitate to step down should he be charged with corruption.

Magashule said the ANC officials were due to discuss a more practical approach towards rebooting an economy that’s been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Focus areas will include support for entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas, he said.

“We want to come with practical things which benefit our people, we don’t want to theorise and have plans and dreams,” he said. “Government will have to ensure that the commitments it makes are not just lip service.”



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