Magashule’s official suspension good for both the rand and ANC; Ace responds

Ace Magashule stubbornly refused to step down after a warrant for his arrest was issued in November last year. Magashule, who is accused of fraud in connection with an asbestos roofing project when he was the Premier of the Free State, is one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s biggest rivals and has been linked to an ANC faction that remains loyal to former President Jacob Zuma. Mahashule’s refusal to step down from the ANC has consistently undermined Ramaphosa’s efforts to weed out corruption in the ruling party. In a victory for South Africa, Magashule has officially been suspended – albeit temporarily – and is reportedly not allowed to make any public announcements. – Nadya Swart

Graft crackdown by South Africa’s ANC boosts election prospects

By S’thembile Cele and Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s ruling party is cracking down on leaders implicated in corruption, a move that may help it woo back disgruntled voters and reclaim control of several key cities in local government elections in October.

The African National Congress on Wednesday suspended Ace Magashule, a top official who’s facing charges including money laundering and fraud. His sidelining came a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged the party needs to do more to combat graft that became endemic during his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s nine-year rule.

Internal polls conducted by the ANC show that corruption, rather than rampant unemployment and inequality, tops the list of voter concerns, said Fikile Mbalula, the party’s head of elections and a member of its decision-making National Executive Committee. Forcing Magashule to step aside should go some way to proving it’s serious about tackling the scourge.

“The ANC is faced with a choice to renew or die,” Mbalula said in an interview. “At some point we did veer away from good values and we are prepared to break with the past.”

The African National Congress resolved in 2017 that officials facing criminal charges should quit their posts. Its top leaders finally decided last month to implement the directive and suspend errant members who refuse to step aside. Bongani Bongo, an ANC lawmaker who previously served as Zuma’s state security minister, is among others in the firing line. He and Magashule both deny wrongdoing.

Founded in 1912, the ANC is Africa’s oldest political movement and led the fight against White-minority rule. It took power under Nelson Mandela in the first multiracial elections in 1994, and has secured an outright majority in every national vote since then.

The party was rocked by repeated corruption scandals during Zuma’s rule, and the government has since estimated that more than 500 billion rand ($35 billion) was stolen from its coffers. Disgruntlement over the looting saw the ANC lose control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, Tshwane, which includes the capital, Pretoria, and several other cities in the last municipal election in 2016.

The party’s fortunes have picked up since it forced Zuma from office in 2018 and replaced him with Ramaphosa. It reclaimed power in Johannesburg after an opposition coalition unraveled, and its share of the vote ticked up in national polls in 2019.

Magashule, who as ANC secretary-general oversaw the day-to-day running of the party, has repeatedly undermined Ramaphosa’s authority. His exit should help the president consolidate his control over the ANC and give him greater leeway to implement economic reforms needed to revive the coronavirus-battered economy.

Rand gains

The rand strengthened as much as 0.8% against the dollar on Wednesday after news of Magashule’s suspension broke, outperforming all emerging-market peers except Brazil’s real. Bonds reversed declines, with yields on benchmark 10-year securities falling two basis points.

The ANC plans to focus on door-to-door campaigning for the October vote, because of limitations on large gatherings imposed due to the coronavirus, according to Mbalula. The party aims to win outright majorities in all the main cities because coalition governments aren’t optimal, but it is prepared to work with any opposition party should the need arise, he said.

The ruling party could be hamstrung by a lack of funds – it owes millions of rand to the national tax agency and other creditors – and its ability to raise new money could be hindered by new public disclosure rules. Its relationship with labor unions and the South African Communist Party, which have backed it in prior elections, has also been strained by the government’s attempts to pare back spending and freeze civil-servant wages.

— With assistance by Paul Richardson, and Robert Brand


African National Congress Secretary General’s Office

Media statement by the Secretary General of the ANC, comrade Elias Sekgobelo Magashule, about my suspension as Secretary General of the ANC

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

I am issuing this media statement in my capacity as Secretary General of the African National Congress (ANC).

I have received a letter under the signature of the Deputy Secretary General, comrade Jessie Duarte, that temporarily suspends me for an initial period of six months. It is my understanding that this letter was issued to me in terms of a decision of the National Working Committee, held on Monday the 3rd of May 2021, in terms of Rule 25.70 and Rule 13, to the effect that all members who have been indicted to appear in a court of law on charges, are to be temporarily suspended.

Other members who are similarly effected have received similar letters.

It is evident that the Deputy Secretary General does not have the authority to issue such letters. Thus the letter is fatally flawed, and in fact unconstitutional. Furthermore these letters are based on a selective and factional interpretation of the relevant Resolution.

I herewith announce that I am immediately, and formally, appealing this unconstitutional suspension. In terms of the ANC Constitution, my suspension is thus wholly suspended, until my appeal has been heard, and it’s final outcome announced.

For the sake of fairness and justice to all the affected comrades, who have received similarly unconstitutional letters, I as Secretary General – who is duty bound to uphold the ANC Constitution and all administrative processes – urge them to also follow the appropriate internal appeal processes. It follows that the suspensions of all affected members will also in terms of the ANC Constitution be suspended with immediate effect.

I have also, in accordance with the powers vested in me as the Secretary General of the ANC, and furthermore in full compliance with the relevant conference Resolutions summarily suspended the President of the ANC, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa.

This is done in terms of Resolution 8.2 of the 54th National Conference, which states that, “… Every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices accounts to the Integrity Committee immediately, or faces DC processes. ,and Resolution 8.3 that further provides for the suspension of, “… people who fail to give an acceptable explanation, or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures”.

I call on all members of the African National Congress to act with revolutionary dignity and respect, and to uphold the ANC Constitution. None of us should bow to illegal and unconstitutional actions. In doing so we must protect the unity of the ANC as leader of society.

Issued by the Secretary General of the ANC Comrade Elias Sekgobelo Magashule

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