Zuptoid noose tightens further as Magashule’s office raided by Hawks

CAPE TOWN —They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows – and there are none stranger than the ANC’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Secretary General Ace Magashule. It’s also true that a week is a long time in politics. Ramaphosa’s promises of a crackdown on corruption are being validated weekly by the sudden galvanisation of several crime-fighting branches of government. Cyril must be deeply uncomfortable with the malodorous accusations against his SG. Last week’s Hawks raid on Magashule’s offices in the Free State where the role of the province’s outgoing Premier in the breath-taking Estina Dairy/Gupta front scam is being probed, may prove to be just the air-freshener he needs. Admitting that your son worked for the Guptas is fast becoming the kiss of death in the new political climate; first Msholozi, now Magashule. Only time – and more hard evidence – will tell how quickly that becomes true. Zuptoid politicians don’t resign just because their records reek of corruption. Where once they defied an unjust system, they now simply deny having corrupted and perverted the very equity they fought for. A simple change in ANC leadership proved the tipping point. Civil society, the media and the courts did the rest. – Chris Bateman

Estina Dairy Project. More of Zapiro’s brilliant cartoon work available at www.zapiro.com.

By Mike Cohen and Arabile Gumede

(Bloomberg) – A South African police investigative unit said it’s conducting a search-and-seizure operation at the office of African National Congress Secretary-General Ace Magashule, a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, in a sign of the authorities’ accelerating probe of corruption allegations.

The raid at Magashule’s offices in the province of Free State, where he’s the outgoing premier, is part of a probe into allegations that funds allocated for a dairy and farming project illicitly went to members of the Gupta family, who’re friends with Zuma and are in business with his son. A similar operation is being conducted at the province’s agriculture department, Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the police unit known as the Hawks, said by phone.

The Hawks’s action is the latest move by the authorities to combat graft since Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, succeeded Zuma as leader of the ANC last month and pledged to restore investor confidence in the economy and public support for the ruling party.

Cyril Ramaphosa shakes hands with Ace Magashule during the 54th national conference of the ANC in Johannesburg on Decemebr 18, 2017. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

While parts of the criminal justice system ground to a halt during Zuma’s scandal-ridden tenure, South Africa’s shifting political landscape and mounting public pressure on the authorities to act against corruption are helping turn the situation around, said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of Pretoria’s Center of Governance Innovation.

Losing Support

“I don’t think Ace will finish his term,” Mkhabela said by phone. “The ANC has made a commitment to fighting corruption and have realized that unless they follow through, they will lose support.”

Last week prosecutors moved to seize assets of Trillian Capital Partners Pty Ltd., which was majority owned by an ally of the Gupta family, because of alleged unlawful payments by the state power utility. A commission of inquiry is also probing whether Zuma played any role in the Gupta family’s alleged offer of cabinet posts to people including former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Ramaphosa said in an interview with Bloomberg television on Wednesday that the authorities are speeding up investigations to fight corruption, calling it a “mammoth task.”

Magashule, who oversees the day-to-day running of the ANC, has admitted that his son worked for the Guptas but said there was nothing untoward in his relationship with them. Zuma, his son and the Guptas have also denied any wrongdoing.

Magashule won the post of ANC secretary-general by just 24 votes in December, defeating Ramaphosa’s preferred candidate, Senzo Mchunu, in an election that was marred by allegations of rigging.

“The law must be allowed to take its course,” Kusela Sangoni-Khawe, a spokeswoman for the ANC, said in an interview with Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA. “Those who are guilty of wrongdoing, regardless of whether it is a leader of the ANC such as the secretary general, they must face the full wrath of the law.”

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