“We are calling for our secretary-general, Ace Magashule, to step down.”
These were the words of a group of ANC Free State members who converged on Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters, to demand “corrupt elements” be flushed out.
Party members, who said they were affected by the beleaguered asbestos and Estina dairy farm projects, were calling on the top six to root out corrupt leaders in the party, especially Magashule.
While waiting on top ANC officials to hand over their memorandum, they sang, “Limene mene makahambe” (He is a liar, he must leave).
Speaking outside Luthuli House on Monday, one of the organisers, Polediso Motsoeneng, said those who were facing corruption and those alleged to have done wrong should step aside as party officials.
He added the party members were not happy with the recent arrests of individuals charged with corruption on the asbestos project because it was only the “small fishes”.
“We want the mastermind here at Luthuli House,” Motsoeneng said.
Another party member said Magashule should account for his part as the overseer while he was premier of the province. “We came here with those beneficiaries from the asbestos project who are saying the former premier, with every claim that has been made against you in relation to those issues of asbestos, ‘can you account?’
“The leadership must actuate their decision that everybody must step aside who have been alleged in corruption and wrongdoing. I want to emphatically say that SG of the ANC, given all the claims against him, he must step aside.”
Another party leader and ANC youth league member, Lonwabo Dyi, said he was not satisfied the national executive committee (NEC) was implementing its decision for members implicated in wrongdoing to step aside.
“Magashule has mastered the art of patronage to deal with individuals,” he said, adding his supporters in the NEC and in the Free State were attempting to co-opt the body under the guise of radical economic transformation.
The party members said they also supported the Zondo commission on state capture whose legitimacy has been questioned by former president Jacob Zuma.
Zuma has called for commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to recuse himself, saying he appeared to harbouring a personal vendetta against him
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe, who received a memorandum from the group, told journalists he would take the matter to the national leadership for deliberation.
He added that members of the ANC should also use the provincial structures to voice their concerns.
Two weeks ago, Magashule supporters marched to Luthuli House to protest what they said was a “politically motivated attack” on Zuma and him.
The protest was organised shortly after reports emerged this week an alleged warrant of arrest would be executed against Magashule. The Hawks have denied the existence of such a warrant.
Last month, Olly Mlamleli, a formidable ANC leader with political reach that stretches to Luthuli House due to her close relationship with Magashule, was the first political leader to be arrested by the Hawks.
She was among seven individuals arrested on 60 charges related to corruption, fraud, money laundering and theft. The charges related to the R255 million beleaguered asbestos project.
She was released on R100,000 bail.
Mlamleli, who stood as accused number 12, face charges for contravening Section 4(a) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act relating to money laundering and failing to report corrupt transactions, extortion, forgery or uttering a forged document, the 39-page indictment read.
Magashule as well as Mlameli’s role in the asbestos project was documented in Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report.
She found serious maladministration, gross negligence of fiduciary duties, and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of R208.6 million during the watch of then-premier Magashule and then-human settlements MEC Mlamleli in the asbestos housing contract.
The contract was awarded to the Gauteng-based Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading joint venture in 2015.
News24 previously reported the farm, gifted to Estina in 2013, under a free 99-year lease by the Free State agriculture department, was one of the most scandal-plagued transactions between the controversial Guptas and a government entity.