'Only party branches can remove me': ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule

19 February 2021 - 18:32
By kgothatso madisa AND Kgothatso Madisa
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule waves to supporters in Bloemfontein where he appeared in court.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times. ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule waves to supporters in Bloemfontein where he appeared in court.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has again reiterated that only party branches can remove him from his position.

His remarks came hours after appearing in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court in a R255m asbestos corruption case.

The remarks were a sign of defiance, in clear contrast to a decision taken by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting last weekend in which guidelines on the issue of “step aside” were adopted.

LISTEN | 'I have done nothing wrong': Ace Magashule after corruption trial appearance

In adopting the guidelines, the NEC said to refine them, the party had to get input from ANC provinces which would then be processed by the national working committee.

Though the NEC made no mention of the branches, Magashule told a media briefing that the guidelines would be discussed by branches before a decision could be taken.

“In the step aside, the NEC has taken a clear decision to refer the guidelines to the structures of the ANC — from branches, regions and provinces — and our structures, the basic units, will actually discuss those matters and that’s why we have taken them there,” Magashule said.

“Remember the highest decision-making body is the national conference which appoints people, which elects leaders and if you have to do certain things you have to go back and further get the mandate from those structures, the original structures, the basic structures.”

Asked whether he would abide by the refined guidelines which were expected at the next NEC meeting, Magashule said he did not want to put the cart before the horse.

“So this decision has been taken down to the ground. I don’t know what the ground will say, I can’t pre-empt, the reports will be consolidated back [at] the NEC,” he said.

He reiterated that his genuine belief was that he should not be removed from his position until the case was concluded.

Magashule said the universal law was that people were presumed innocent until proven guilty.

He cited Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an example, saying he was facing criminal charges and he had not been asked to step aside.

Magashule said he appreciated support from all provinces and regions, adding that “when the whole matter against me is concluded, history will certainly absolve some of us and at that point I’ll be able to express myself to the public”.

“I have, by all means, avoided the obvious temptation to speak about the merits and demerits of the ongoing case because I know you know by now that the indictment is voluminous and the lawyers are actually looking at that and studying everything ... If it was me I will just talk, but from time to time legal practitioners have to advise us.”

Magashule said they were “hugely grateful” to the hundreds of supporters who came voluntarily and spontaneously to Bloemfontein.

“Unfortunately, today it was not possible to address everyone who came because of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant level 3 restrictions and protocols. We just wanted to show that we have to lead by example by making sure that we encourage the SA public to behave in a particular way, to always respect the restrictions and protocols.”

He also wanted to clarify that there were no new charges added against him, as was reported in the morning.

According to Magashule, there was no corruption during his term as premier of the Free State and he was confident the state did not have a case against him.