It seems like ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule will be suspended from the party as he stands trial on corruption charges.
The party’s national working committee (NWC) met on Monday to discuss several matters, including rules adopted in late March by the national executive committee (NEC) regarding officials stepping aside when they are charged with corruption or other serious crimes. The NWC implements NEC decisions.
This was after Magashule and several other implicated members previously indicated they would not abide by the step aside rule.
Magashule was charged and released on R200,000 bail in November last year after he appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 21 charges of corruption and fraud, alternatively theft and money laundering relating to a multimillion-rand asbestos audit contract scandal in the Free State.
On Tuesday afternoon, the party’s NWC announced it had “reaffirmed the decision” that all officials implicated and charged with corruption or other serious crimes need to step aside within 30 days after being charged.
The statement did not indicate which members would be suspended and no one was mentioned by name. It was also unclear about Magashule’s immediate fate as he was charged in court more than 30 days ago.
— African National Congress (@MYANC) May 4, 2021
It has also been more than 30 days since the step aside guidelines were finalised and announced by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
However, the statement left little room for manoeuvre.
“Those who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes and who have not stepped aside should be suspended in terms of Rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution,” it said.
The statement added that the NWC had received “reports from provinces on members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes, the status of their matters, whether the affected members have been informed of the decision of the NEC, and whether they have stepped aside”.
As a result, it is expected that Magashule will either have to step aside immediately or be suspended from his position.
The decision to suspend one of the most senior officials in the ruling party has been a tough one, dragging on for several weeks since the ANC made the decision at the end of March.
Magashule has become increasingly isolated as he tried to drum up support. It was reported on Tuesday that he had has been left isolated among his fellow top six officials in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).
The statement drew on Rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution, giving impetus to the NEC decision that officials must step aside.
“Where a public representative, office bearer or member has been indicted to appear in a court of law on any charge, the secretary-general or provincial secretary, acting on the authority of the NEC, the NWC, the PEC or the PWC, if satisfied that the temporary suspension of such public representative, office-bearer or member would be in the best interest of the organisation, may suspend such public representative, elected office bearer or member and impose terms and conditions to regulate their participation and conduct during the suspension.”
What happens now?
The ANC statement indicated that implicated members who step aside voluntarily “must update the relevant secretariat on a monthly basis regarding progress with their case” and the “relevant structure of the organisation” will review the step aside decision every six months.
If implicated individuals do not step aside, they will be suspended.
“The NWC instructed that the necessary letters must be written to the affected members implementing this decision, and outlining the terms and conditions regulating their participation and conduct during the suspension.”