Court upholds Ace Magashule’s suspension

By S’thembile Cele

(Bloomberg) – A South African court upheld a decision by the ruling party to suspend its secretary-general Ace Magashule, one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s main detractors, pending the outcome of his corruption trial that’s due to start next month.

Magashule filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the African National Congress to reinstate him to his post, but the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday dismissed his application, saying the party was entitled to regulate itself and its members and officials.

The judgment is the latest setback for a faction in the ANC that’s aligned to Jacob Zuma, the former president of the party and the country. It came a day after Zuma started serving a 15-month jail term that was handed down after he was found guilty of defying a Constitutional Court order to testify before a judicial commission that’s probing graft during his nine-year rule.

The ANC’s secretary-general oversees the day-to-day running of the party, making it one of its most powerful positions. Magashule has repeatedly undermined Ramaphosa’s authority and voiced support for Zuma.

Magashule could face internal disciplinary action, after he disobeyed the party’s instructions to refrain from addressing its members and gatherings following his suspension. The ANC also chastised him for issuing a letter announcing that he was suspending Ramaphosa from his position as its leader, and the High Court ruled that decision unlawful.

Magashule is due to appear in court on Aug. 11 to face corruption, fraud and money-laundering charges related to an audit contract issued while he was premier of the central Free State province.

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