Massive mobilisation underway across the country ahead of Ace Magashule’s court appearance
Durban – In 2005 hordes of supporters stood outside in support of former president Jacob Zuma during his first court appearance after he was fired by then-president Thabo Mbeki.
Similar scenes are expected to play out in Bloemfontein where ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is expected to appear on Friday.
This is despite a warning by the ANC and Magashule himself that people must not mobilise when he appears in court for his high-stakes corruption case.
By Thursday, at least in three provinces (Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo), there was massive mobilisation of ANC members to go to Bloemfontein to support Magashule.
The state accuses him of failing to prevent corrupt activities in the 2014 asbestos project that saw R255 million being looted when he was Premier between 2009 and 2017.
Most of the mobilisation campaigns were centred on the Free State where the ANC Youth League there announced it would stage a night vigil on Thursday night and camp outside the court building the following day.
The spokesperson of the provincial ANCYL, Sello Peterson, told Independent Media they would be out in full force to back Magashule.
“Thousands of members of the ANCYL in the Free State will attend the court appearance of the secretary-general tomorrow.
“We will also hold a night vigil tonight in our numbers… as individual members of the ANCYL,” Peterson said on Thursday.
Another province that was mobilising on Thursday was KwaZulu-Natal.
ANC member, Moketsi Mahasela, who falls under the banner of the RET forces, said five buses would leave Durban for Bloemfontein and three others would depart from Pietermaritzburg.
“Let this be clear, we are going there to support the SG (secretary-general) in our personal capacity, not as ANC members,” he stressed.
From Limpopo, most supporters were coming from the Vhembe region of the ruling party.
Senior ANCYL member there, Fistos Mafela, said he was already on his way to Bloemfontein.
“Behind us is a convoy of cars and one bus.
“We are all going to support Ace in our own personal capacity,” he said.
By 2pm on Thursday, two senior ANC members had confirmed they would be in court to offer moral support to Magashule.
One of them was former North West premier, Supra Mahumapelo who told Independent Media that he "definitely" would be in court.
Also expected in court would be Carl Niehaus, who said he was going to back Magashule as his friend and comrade.
“I am actually on the road to Bloemfontein.
“I am going there to support him as my friend, comrade and my leader…
“I stand with my friends during good and bad times,” Niehaus said.
Another senior member is the party’s national spokesperson, Pule Mabe, who told the SABC on Wednesday evening that he would go there in his personal capacity.
There were also reports that members going to support Magashule from Gauteng would be transported by bus.
In anticipation of huge crowds, the Mangaung (Bloemfontein metro) was on Thursday working on a plan to contain the anticipated influx of people.
The metro’s spokesperson, Qondile Khedana said he could confirm that some roads within the city centre would be closed and a full plan would be issued to the public later.