Ace Magashule will not step down, says ANC as it seeks legal advice

This is despite a resolution for officials and members of the governing party to step down when facing criminal charges.

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule will remain in the top position despite a warrant of arrest issued for him to appear in court on Friday over the controversial asbestos tenders in the Free State, which cost over R200 million.

This is despite a resolution for officials and members of the governing party to step down when facing criminal charges.

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Instead, the ANC on Wednesday made a U-turn on the decision saying it is consulting legal counsel on its merit.

Magashule is alleged to have had a hand in the failed multi-million-rand asbestos contract, which never benefitted residents, but suppliers were paid over R255 million.

Although it was always a long shot that Magashule would step down in line with the ANC’s resolution on corruption, the party said its hands were currently tied as the move had had undesirable outcomes in the past.

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Addressing reporters after the ANC’s top officials met on Tuesday, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the party was still seized with the question of whether officials accused of a crime should step aside from their posts.

“We need to take serious legal counsel based on the fact that some comrades were initially charged and then had to vacate their positions, and court actions were then withdrawn after they have already been asked to vacate senior positions in the movement,” Duarte said.

However, the ANC’s 54th conference resolutions were clear in that members of the party accused of, or reported to be involved in corrupt practices should account to the integrity commission immediately or face disciplinary action.

The resolution further stated that those who failed to give acceptable explanations to the commission or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative, or prosecutorial procedures - should be summarily suspended.

ANC SUPPORTS MAGASHULE

While the ANC reassured South Africans of its commitment to fight corruption, the party maintained its support for Magashule as he faces corruption charges.

Duarte said Magashule told the party’s top six officials that no leadership supports any act of corruption, but even this did not deter the officials from backing him up in the light of the pending legal processes.

Duarte, however, explained that while they supported Magashule, they would not show up during the court appearance as they could not “divorce themselves from their positions in the party”.

ANC members are only allowed to support leaders going through personal legal battles in their individual capacities.
Although tensions have already flared between Free State ANC members - who are for and against Magashule - Duarte also said the secretary-general discouraged the conduct.

“There are huge tensions [and] we cannot be party to creating any further division. We have to respect the NEC decisions,” she said.

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