ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PICTURE: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PICTURE: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been issued with a suspension letter, effectively barring him from party activities for the duration of his corruption trial. 

The ANC's national working committee meeting on Monday agreed that suspension letters should be issued to all those who face formal charges for corruption or any other serious charge.

Magashule, an elected official, is arguably in the second most powerful position in the party and is facing charges of corruption, theft and fraud related to a multimillion rand asbestos tender dating back to his tenure as Free State premier. 

The letter was issued and signed by his deputy, Jessie Duarte, and the move sets in motion a steep fight by Magashule and his loyalists for his reinstatement to the key post. 

The secretary-general is a powerful official who controls the day to day running of the party and has a significant role to play in elective conferences at all levels of the organisation — from branch general meetings to national conference. It is an unwritten rule in the ANC that it is nearly impossible to win a national conference without the backing of  the secretary-general. 

Neutralising Magashule by suspending him takes him out of the running to influence branch general meetings, regional and provincial conferences in the run-up to the ANC's national conference set to take place in December next year. In the short term, it also removes him from the driving seat in preparations for the ANC's upcoming midterm policy review meeting, the national general council. 

It is a significant step for President Cyril Ramaphosa's reform project, indicating that no party member — irrespective of the position they hold — would escape sanction for bringing the party into disrepute and is an important move in the party's uphill battle against corruption. 

Magashule and his backers are likely to challenge his suspension. He could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon. 

Read the full suspension letter below.

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