ANC secretary general Ace Magashule. File picture: ANA/Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - Former Free State premier Ace Magashule's leadership in the province was characterised by ''mafia-style tactics of governing and rudderless leadership'' from which under-handed business dealings and state capture emerged, provincial DA leader Patricia Kopane said on Monday.

Kopane held a media briefing in Bloemfontein following the publication of 'Gangster State', authored by journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh. 

Myburgh sketched a damning account of corruption under Magashule's premiership, alleging that the province was the centre of the state capture phenomenon.  He further alleges that Magashule was known as 'Mr 10 percent' for demanding a 10 percent kickback from every government contract at the province, pocketing R230 million in kickbacks from an asbestos deal. 

Magashule was premier between 2009 and 2018. He was elected governing African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general in 2017, a full-time job that required him to be based at Luthuli House, the ruling party headquarters in Johannesburg.

Kopane listed eight corruption scandals she alleged were spear-headed by the ANC veteran.  

These included the Gupta-linked Estina Diary Project and the Old Ramkraal Prison in Bloemfontein. Kopane said the Old Ramkraal Prison was identified as a development site for the new provincial legislature complex. The provincial government initiated the development in 2010 and spent approximately R120 million on demolition works and securing the site for further development, she said.

''Nine years later the Ramkraal Prison, a provincial heritage site, is completely dilapidated through willful neglect, looting and vandalism.''

Magashule was also embroiled in a Textile Workers Pension Fund scandal where he was a director of a company called Leading Prospect Trading 42, said Kopane. The company received R15 million interest-free loan from Canyon Springs Investments 12, who had obtained the money from textile workers’ pension funds. 

She said the loan agreement was signed in May 2007 and the funds were transferred prior to the signing of the contract. Magashule resigned as director after the money transfer, Leading Prospect Trading 42 collapsed and was deregistered. No reasons for the loan was given and no security was offered, Kopane said, adding that the loan was never repaid.

''Furthermore, in 2013, the DA asked the Auditor General to investigate Magashule’s abuse of R140 million for a Free State government website. The channelling of millions of public funds into propaganda projects was a deliberate ploy to buy media influence and enrich his comrades in business at the same time. The DA revealed how Magashule spent R12 million on his own television channel. The contract for Hlasela TV was awarded to the same person as the website tender, Mr Ntsele, a politically-connected businessman. 

"Mr Ntsele’s Letlaka Group also runs The Weekly newspaper which has long been propped up by Free State government funding, just like The New Age. The DA previously revealed that the Premier’s Office is planning to roll-out a further three new propaganda newspapers in the Free State using public funds.''

Kopane said a dossier on Magashule has been sent to the state capture commission of inquiry earlier this year.

Magashule told reporters on the sidelines of the ANC NEC meeting underway in Irene, Pretoria, that he was seeking legal action against Myburgh.

African News Agency (ANA)