Court dismisses Magashule's bid to overturn his suspension

Magashule had turned to the courts to overturn his suspension from the ANC and uphold his own attempt at suspending party president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

FILE: ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The Johannesburg High Court has on Friday rejected Ace Magashule's challenge to his suspension as secretary general of the African National Congress (ANC).

The High Court said its judgment was unanimous that Magashule could not claim that the party’s step aside rule violated his rights under Section 17 of the Constitution.

The court has delivered its ruling on the suspended secretary general’s application in which he wanted it to find that his suspension was unlawful and unconstitutional, and to endorse his suspension letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Judge Jody Kollapen said: “We are satisfied for the reasons that we have given that the ANC constitution is consistent with that of the country and the decision to suspend Magashule was effected in terms of the ANC constitution, was precautionary in nature and complied with the law relevant to precautionary suspensions.”

The court outlined the events that led to Magashule’s suspension and his attempt to suspend president Ramaphosa including the March meeting that decided to give members implicated in corruption 30 days to step aside or be suspended.

In his court papers, Magashule said he was unlawfully suspended, and he wanted the court to find that the party’s step aside rule was unconstitutional.

He said the rule was punitive and didn't allow one the right to be heard a principle of natural justice.

But the court said he participated in the formation of the rule and the hearings of the integrity commission leading to his suspension.

“The contention that his suspension was unlawful for lack of compliance with rule 25.70 has no merit and stands to be rejected.”

Shortly after his own suspension was announced, Magashule wrote a letter to Ramaphosa saying he should step aside after his CR17 campaign was reported to law enforcement agencies.

The court said his letter suspending Ramaphosa was not endorsed and said Magashule could not challenge his suspension letter from Duarte: “Neither the NEC nor the NWC could issue an instruction that Magashule should suspend himself, this would have placed him in a situation of a conflict of interest.”

The court said Magashule could apply the step aside rule on Ramaphosa because it could not be applied where a person hasn’t been charged.

Kollapen said just because Ramaphosa didn’t challenge his suspension by Magashule, it didn’t mean the court should endorse his letter with a declarator.

“If that is so the court would be compelled to grant a declarator in respect of conduct that is unlawful.”

The court said the right of an organisation to discipline and expel its members is not in competition with the right to participate as Magashule claimed.

“The application is dismissed with costs of three counsel,” Judge Kollapen said.

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