THE fourth most senior official of South Africa’s governing African National Congress party has been charged with 21 counts of fraud and corruption and is out on bail of R200 000.
Ace Magashule, the secretary-general of the ANC, in charge of the party’s day-to-day running, appeared at a magistrate’s court in Bloemfontein, a city which was besieged by thousands of his supporters, which included high ranking ANC officials.
One of the ANC’s “top six” most powerful officials, he faces corruption charges over allegations related to a contract to audit houses with asbestos roofs awarded while he was premier of the Free State. Magashule says he has done nothing wrong.
According to the charge sheet, Magashule accepted payments over R500 000 from beneficiaries of tenders awarded by a government that he headed. R 53 500, paid at his request towards the tuition fees of the daughter of a then acting-judge. It is also alleged that Magashule accepted R470 000 fr the purchase of 200 tablets from Phikolomzi Mpambani, whose company had won a R250-million asbestos tender.
The ANC, which has governed South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994, has not asked Magashule to step down because of the allegations.
The streets around the magistrate’s court in Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State province and the judicial seat of the country, had been cordoned off from midnight in anticipation of protests from Magashule’s supporters.
Television footage showed a scattering of supporters in the streets of the city, some of whom burned yellow ANC t-shirts with President Cyril Ramphosa’s face on and called on the president to step down.
Magashule is from a faction within the governing party that has opposed Ramaphosa since he replaced Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018. Ramaphosa has pledged to clean up the ANC’s image and take a tough stance on corruption. – Thomas Reuters Foundation.