ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ANA

Durban - Embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on Sunday made sensational claims that state security agencies were being used to try to oust him from his powerful position.

The Free State premier was referring to search-and-seizure operations at his offices in his home province and at the Department of Agriculture.

The investigation is apparently in connection with the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede, which has been linked to the Guptas enriching themselves with millions of rands worth of state money.

Magashule’s speech, delivered to thousands of ANC members sympathetic to President Jacob Zuma, comes as cracks have started to show in the ANC Top 6 in the wake of state capture investigations involving the Gupta family and their associates.

Addressing thousands of ANC supporters who packed the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Sunday, Magashule said he was the target of a smear campaign to remove him from the position he was elected to last month.

Read: Vrede Dairy: Hawks raid Ace Magashule's office

Dairy project just the 'tip of the Gupta iceberg'

“They are attempting (to remove) me using the dairy farm,” he said.

But Magashule said the law must take its course, and if any wrongdoing is found there must be action “without fear”.

“They must not intimidate us because they want us removed. The enemies are not going to sleep until the ANC is weakened,” he said.

The event was organised by the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal as a continuation of the ANC’s 106th birthday celebrations.

Among those who accompanied Magashule were former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, representing the ANC Women’s League, and chairperson of the suspended KwaZulu-Natal executive committee Sihle Zikalala, who was recently selected as the co-ordinator of the provincial interim structure.

Unlike at the national ANC birthday celebration in East London where President Jacob Zuma was booed, in Pietermaritzburg ANC supporters ululated every time his name was mentioned.

Magashule also warned Zikalala that the court battle that saw the PEC being nullified was a campaign by enemies using party leaders to weaken the ANC in the province to hamper its chances in the 2019 elections.

A weak ANC would not be able to implement free education, radical economic transformation and expropriation of land without compensation, the work started by President Zuma, Magashule said.

Magashule said Zuma had achieved the impossible by starting the process of implementing the Freedom Charter into the government policies.

“Fight on and fight on because we need to claim back our economy,” he said.

He said there were people within the ANC who express doubt about the national conference adopting the Mining Charter.

“They keep saying ‘but, but’ because we are scared of white people. We had adopted the Mining Charter. We have taken a resolution to return our economy, but comrades keep saying ‘but’,” Magashule said.

Since the ANC is no longer under Zuma it has lost direction, he said.

“Stay focused on restoring the ANC we know of. It is just a matter of five years as conferences happen after each and every five years. We have to work hard,” he said.

While Magashule claimed to have been targeted, ANC deputy president David Mabuza rallied behind Ramaphosa’s crusade against corruption and state capture.

Addressing a crowd that packed Ephraim Mogale Stadium, Mabuza said Ramaphosa “is safe next to me” in his fight against graft.

Limpopo is Ramaphosa’s home province and was a stronghold of his backers as he campaigned for the party presidency.

“Our people have said it loud and clear that we must stop corruption. We are going to work hard to fight corruption, we have agreed that we are going to fight state capture in all ways it manifests itself,” he said.

“Corruption is a cancer that can eat and destroy a nation,” Mabuza said.

He said the ruling party must be led by morally upright people, adding that many of its past leaders were religious leaders.

“That means the ANC was led by people of high moral standards, of high moral values.

“If you are a leader of the ANC, you must be respectable in society,” Mabuza said.

A former member of the so-called premier league which has been backing Zuma throughout his presidency, Mabuza decried the party’s state of affairs, saying Ramaphosa was best positioned to lead the party on a path to self-correction.

“We trust comrade Ramaphosa that he will fix all these things that have gone wrong in the ANC. I want you to trust him, he is an upright man and I will work with him to ensure that all the wrongs in the ANC are corrected,” he said.

The Mercury