Ace Magashule draws rowdy crowd of SA’s corrupt, captured to court

Ace Magashule, ANC secretary general, is the highest profile politician arrested in connection with state capture and corruption in the years when Zuma was president. He appeared in court as more evidence spilled out at the Zondo Commission into State Capture about the role of Jacob Zuma and family in plundering entities like Denel. Although Magashule was at pains to ask his supporters not to attend the court appearance, they arrived in force – including in specially designed t-shirts. President Cyril Ramphosa has been cracking down on corruption, with at least 100 arrests in about a month. Much more challenging than having arrest warrants issued will be successfully processing cases through the court, with Zuma demonstrating how easy it is to drag out legal action. – Jackie Cameron

South Africa President’s main rival, Ace Magashule, charged with corruption

By S’thembile Cele and Gemma Gatticchi

(Bloomberg) — South African prosecutors charged the second-highest ranking official in the nation’s ruling party with corruption, fraud and money-laundering.

The charges were put to African National Congress Secretary-General Ace Magashule at an appearance in the Magistrate’s Court in the central city of Bloemfontein on Friday. The court granted Magashule bail of 200,000 rand ($12,802) and ordered him to appear again on Feb. 19.

Magashule, who oversees the day-to-day running of the ANC, is the highest-profile serving politician to face charges since President Cyril Ramaphosa took office in 2018 and pledged to crack down on the corruption that became endemic during his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s rule. The government estimated that more than 500 billion rand was stolen.

“The investigations are done and we are ready for trial,” the National Prosecuting Authority said in a statement. Magashule’s former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, will be a state witness, state prosecutor Johan de Nysschen said.

The case against Magashule relates to a 255 million-rand asbestos audit contract that was awarded in the Free State, according to the police’s special investigating unit. Magashule, who was the province’s premier at the time, is being charged with seven other people, and at least three more are expected to be added to the charge sheet, the NPA said.

Magashule allegedly received various payments from murdered businessman Ignatius Mpambani, the owner of one of two companies awarded the asbestos contract, the NPA said. He also allegedly failed to report corrupt transactions, it said.

Ace Magashule: Leadership position

Magashule’s lawyer, Laurence Hodes, didn’t answer calls seeking comment.

The ANC’s top leadership issued a directive in August that all members who face legal charges should step aside from their duties, though none has done so yet. Addressing hundreds of supporters outside the court, Magashule suggested he’ll defy any order by the party’s National Executive Committee to step aside.

“Nobody can remove us,” Magashule said.

The ANC is currently working on a legal framework that will set out the conditions under which members should step aside. It’s expected to discuss Magashule’s position at its next meeting, a date for which hasn’t been announced yet.

“Ace Magashule is going nowhere,” Tony Yengeni, a member of the NEC, told the crowd of supporters. “He will finish his term.”

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