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World

South Africa's ANC party suspends top official in graft scandal

  • Magashule has been indicted on charges of corruption and fraud, or theft and money laundering, along with around a dozen other co-accused.
Published May 6, 2021
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JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's governing ANC party has suspended its secretary general, Elias "Ace" Magashule, over graft charges in a move seen as a political victory for President Cyril Ramaphosa in the divided party.

But a defiant Magashule, who is the first top party official to be temporarily forced out under a new policy aimed at turning the page on a litany of graft scandals, said he was not going anywhere.

Instead, he said he was suspending Ramaphosa from his position as ANC president.

Magashule, 61, was given a 30-day ultimatum on March 30 to step aside after being charged with embezzling public funds while he was premier of the Free State province.

He ignored the deadline and refused to resign voluntarily, forcing the party to suspend him.

"You are hereby temporarily suspended with effect from 3 May 2021 until the final outcome of your court proceedings," his deputy Jessie Duarte informed Magashule of his suspension in a letter. The letter, dated Monday and leaked to the media on Wednesday, said the decision to suspend him would be "in the best interest of the organisation".

But Magashule, countered in a letter Wednesday night sent to Ramaphosa and Duarte, saying he was "appealing this unconstitutional suspension" and that until the appeal was heard he would keep his job.

In a dramatic and strange outburst, he said he was invoking powers vested in him as the secretary general of the ANC, to "summarily" suspend Ramaphosa.

But the ANC immediately issued a statement saying its resolution stands and asked Magashule to "respect" the party's decisions and "subject himself to the discipline of the organization".

Magashule has been indicted on charges of corruption and fraud, or theft and money laundering, along with around a dozen other co-accused.

The African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela, which has been ruling the country since the end of white minority rule in 1994, has been at pains to clean up its image, marred by years of graft.

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