President Cyril Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule, the ANC secretary-general.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule, the ANC secretary-general.

Civil rights groups welcomes ANC’s decision asking Ace Magashule to step aside

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Mar 31, 2021

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Durban - Civil rights groups have welcomed the decision by the ANC National Executive Committee in giving Ace Magashule, the party's secretary-general, 30 days to step aside pending 74 counts of fraud and corruption against him.

Following the ANC NEC meeting on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his closing address, said Magashule and others facing corruption charges had a month to vacate their offices. If not, they faced suspension or disciplinary action from the party.

"All members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which, they should be suspended in terms of Rule 25.70 of the ANC Constitution. The meeting emphasised that the 30 day period will be to enable the implementation of the decision in line with the guidelines, not to review the decision."

He said the NEC also agreed that the provincial chairpersons and secretaries would meet with the respective leaders to further refine the guidelines to ensure the resolution was effectively and practically implemented.

"The secretary-general’s office will work with the provinces to identify all people affected and inform them of the decision. The NEC welcomed the decision by the ANC Secretary-General, Cde Ace Magashule, to use this time to seek the counsel of past leaders of the movement.

"The NEC called on all ANC members to rally around this decision and not to engage in any acts of indiscipline, including through mobilisation or public statements that undermine implementation of the Conference resolution."

Magashule was charged by the National Prosecuting Authority for allegedly laundering R233-million in an asbestos roof audit during his tenure as the Free State premier.

In December 2020, the Integrity Commission recommended that Magashule step aside but he reportedly argued that this can only be instructed by those who elected him.

Mandla Mpempe, the executive director of the Centre for Good Governance and Social Justice NPC, said the ANC had made a good decision.

"This will go a long way to ensure that the ethical and moral decay in institutions of government is mitigated against. Our concern comes in when political party positions are used to undermine the rule of law."

He said the organisation believed that when applied consistently and without bias, the NEC's decision was the beginning of progress.

"It has to be applied without favour or prejudice. The bigger picture here should be the restoration of ethics, rule of law, constitutionalism, morality and good governance in South Africa."

Advocate Rod Solomons, the convenor of the #Sa1stForum, said he looked forward to other ANC leaders stepping down.

"We await to see the list of all those ANC leaders who will have to step down after 30 days. Obviously, the kingpin is its secretary-general, but there are numerous others. We trust that the latest ANC NEC decision is not a ruse to placate South Africans, who are now gatvol of the shenanigans of politicians."

Yashica Padia, spokesperson for the Active Citizens Movement, believed nothing had changed following the NEC meeting.

She said the matter was a factional battle that continued to take centre stage, while the people of the country suffered daily.

"We are not to be associated with internal battles and factions of political parties. However, corruption is a serious impediment to our democracy and all political parties and politicians should be held to higher levels of integrity and not use the legal prescript of innocent until proven otherwise."

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