Ace Magashule’s controversial political legacy

In a letter from his deputy Jessie Duarte, the ANC secretary general was informed of his suspension, which started on 3 May 2021 and is set to continue until after his court challenge.

FILE: Ace Magashule. Picture: Thomas Holder/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - It took Ace Magashule more than three decades to ascend to the ANC’s national office.

He now has to step aside, making his tenure as secretary-general one of the shortest.

READ: ANC serves Ace Magashule with suspension letter

A Free State strong man, Magashule rose to national politics at the height of the 2007 seminal battle for control of the ANC.

He publicly backed Jacob Zuma for party presidency over Thabo Mbeki at the Polokwane elective conference.

Magashule and Mbeki’s cold war stemmed from Mbeki twice overlooking him for the Free State premiership.

This was despite Magashule being one of the longest serving party chairpersons – dominating provincial politics for more than two decades.

Zuma rewarded his loyalty in 2009 when he finally appointed him as Free State premier.

In turn, Magashule became a fervent Zuma supporter throughout his presidency, being part of the so called Premier League that brought together the then premiers of Free State, Mpumalanga, North-West and Kwa-Zulu Natal. This became a strong Zuma lobby group and campaigned for his re-election.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma joined ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on the campaign trail in KwaZulu-Natal in 2019. Picture: @MYANC/Twitter.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma joined ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on the campaign trail in KwaZulu-Natal in 2019. Picture: @MYANC/Twitter.

READ: What the suspension from the ANC means for Ace Magashule

Magashule courted controversy throughout his political life.

Before becoming premier, he was twice fired as MEC over governance scandals.

In 1996 his ANC provincial executive committee was disbanded for infighting.

This saw him banished to Parliament’s back benches in 1997.

But this was short lived as he was back in the Free State again elected as chairperson.

However, under his leadership the 2012 and 2017 elective conferences that re-elected him chair were set aside by the courts as unlawful.

Now after three years at Luthuli House, Magashule is leaving the national stage back to the Free State.

While his iron grip has loosened, both his supporters and rivals warn that those writing him off as a spent force do so at their own peril.

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