Ace Magashule must step aside or be suspended

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. PHOTO: Gallo Images/Sunday Times / Alon Skuy

It seems as if African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule will be suspended from the party as he stands trial on corruption charges.

The Citizen reports, the party’s national working committee (NWC) met on Monday to discuss several matters, including rules adopted in late March regarding officials stepping aside while implicated in corruption or other serious crimes.

This after Magashule – and several other implicated cadres – previously indicated that they would not abide by the step aside rule.

On Tuesday afternoon, the party announced that it had “reaffirmed the decision” that all officials implicated and charged with corruption or other serious crimes need to step aside within 30 days after being charged.

The statement did not indicate which cadres will be suspended and no one was mentioned by name. It was also unclear on Magashule’s immediate fate as he was charged in a court more than 30 days ago. It has also been more than 30 days since the step aside guidelines were finalised and announced by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.

However, the statement left little room for manoeuvre:

“The NWC received reports from provinces on members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes, the status of their matters, whether the affected members have been informed of the decision of the NEC, and whether they have stepped aside.”

As a result, it is expected that Magashule will either have to step aside immediately or be suspended from his position.

The decision to suspend one of the most senior officials in the ruling party has been a tough one, dragging on for several weeks since the ANC made the decision at the end of March.

Magashule has been increasingly isolated as he tried to drum up support and it was reported on Tuesday that he had has been left isolated among his fellow top six officials in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).

The statement also referred to Rule 25.70 of the ANC Constitution, giving impetus to the NEC decision that officials must step aside:

“Where a public representative, office-bearer or member has been indicted to appear in a court of law on any charge, the Secretary General or Provincial Secretary, acting on the authority of the NEC, the NWC, the PEC or the PWC, if satisfied that the temporary suspension of such public representative, office-bearer or member would be in the best interest of the Organisation, may suspend such public representative, elected office-bearer or member and impose terms and conditions to regulate their participation and conduct during the suspension.”

The Citizen / Hendri Pelser