Fees Must Fall activist Mcebo Dlamini was among the scores of Ace Magashule supporters outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday, where the latter appeared on charges emanating from the R255 million asbestos audit tender in the Free State.
Speaking to the media, Dlamini cautioned that the charges against Magashule – which relate to his alleged failure to exercise oversight over the awarding of the tender while he was the premier of the Free State – were “creating a very poisonous and dangerous precedent” which would decimate the leadership of the ANC by 2024.
“If indeed there is a charge called oversight, everyone in a leadership position is guilty,” Dlamini said.
UPDATE: Ace Magashule granted R200k bail
The activist made examples that no one had been charged for failing to exercise oversight in the Eastern Cape R10 million scooter scandal, the Life Esidimeni tragedy and personal protective equipment (PPE) corruption.
Dlamini said the charges against Magashule signalled a trend of certain ANC leaders being targeted.
“It reminds me of the days of apartheid when the ANC had sellouts and turncoats and counterinsurgents, it was not white people, it was ANC comrades selling each other [out] and killing them, so we are back there,” Dlamini said.
Scores of the ANC secretary-general’s supporters picketed outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Those at the court in support of Magashule included ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who the Hawks last month obtained a warrant of arrest against in connection with alleged corruption in Mpumalanga.
Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tony Yengeni, Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and MK Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus were also outside court on Friday.
Speaking to the media, Mahumapelo said the support shown to Magashule was because they believed he was innocent.
“But we are also here to show leadership to say, we must respect the processes of the law in South Africa,” Mahumapelo said.
Videos of Magashule supporters burning ANC T-shirts with the face of President Cyril Ramaphosa were captured and posted on social media.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe on Wednesday said that Magashule had asked that no individual or group should march and print posters in his name ahead of his court appearance.
Niehaus told a reporter that the support for Magashule had been “a spontaneous development from branches, from regions, from provinces”, adding that the support was not only for the ANC secretary-general but for the party as well.
Niehaus said Magashule’s supporters who had flocked to the court were concerned about unity within the ANC and that they were “very concerned that a senior member” of the party, “the chief executive officer”, had been charged. This could sow division within the governing party, Niehaus said.
“We are coming here with a message that we do not want that division, that we want unity within the ANC,” Niehaus said, adding that charges of corruption or any other charges should not be used “in a selective way in order to target certain people”.
Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu