EXPOSED | Ace Magashule's murky dealings

Book exposes Ace Magashule's role in Gupta state capture, Free State looting

31 March 2019 - 00:07 By PIETER-LOUIS MYBURGH


The ANC's powerful secretary-general stands accused of rampant corruption, ruthless gangsterism and even exaggerating his struggle credentials.
The shocking claims are contained in Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture, a sensational new book to be published today.
It shines an unflattering light on the man regarded by some as a leader who was at the centre of state capture.
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In one of the most bizarre episodes in the book, a former ally claims Magashule arrived at his doorstep in Bloemfontein one morning in 2013. Travelling without his blue-light brigade or bodyguards, Magashule drove him from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg without disclosing who they were about to meet.
Thabo Manyoni, who was the Mangaung mayor at the time, said the two arrived at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, where the premier introduced him to Atul Gupta as "the person you will be working with".
During their meeting Gupta boasted about friends in high places, claiming he could summon cabinet ministers to Saxonwold within the hour with a phone call. He offered Manyoni an A4 envelope stuffed with cash. The former mayor traces his political demise to his refusal to co-operate in state capture.
Magashule, a member of the so-called Premier League, is a staunch supporter of Jacob Zuma.
As premier of the Free State from 2009 to 2018, he played a key role in propping up the Zuma presidency. His election by the ANC to the post of secretary-general in December 2017 made him SA's most powerful non-elected politician.
Leaked e-mails and documents implicate Magashule in the alleged diversion of funds from a massive government contract in the Free State, and link him to a businessman gunned down in Sandton two years ago.
The paper trail suggests Magashule tapped into the proceeds of a contentious R230m "asbestos audit" awarded by his province's department of human settlements in late 2014. The audit was supposed to "assess" 300,000 low-cost houses to pinpoint homes with harmful asbestos roofs.
Ignatius "Igo" Mpambani, one of the key role-players in the saga, was shot dead in June 2017 while driving his Bentley down Bowling Avenue in Sandton. It is believed he was heading to Bloemfontein.
Nicknamed the "Bentley bagman", he had almost R1m in cash with him in the car. Half of it was found in a cooler bag in the footwell of the front passenger seat, the stacks of banknotes held together with elastic bands. Investigators found R500,000 in bundles in the boot.
In the book, Magashule is also accused of exaggerating his struggle credentials. One of his more bizarre claims is that he was part of a group who trained Stompie Seipei and others how to use AK47s and hand grenades at the home of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
However, a former Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) operative from the Free State and a former United Democratic Front (UDF) leader both said Magashule was talking nonsense. "Is he saying he trained a child to be a soldier? If that is the case, whatever they were doing there was not an MK operation," said the former UDF leader.
Two sources who formed part of Magashule's group of "internal exiles" in Hillbrow in the late 1980s said Magashule himself never underwent military training. Magashule and a few activists from the northern Free State based themselves in Hillbrow after run-ins with the security police.
The book claims one of the sources described an incident during which the group had to deliver a bag of weapons to MK operatives. Magashule apparently wanted to "check out" some of the weapons.
"We were in a hotel, and I told him to leave the things, he was going to get himself killed or he was going to expose us," said one source.
Magashule was part of a group of activists who fled to Zambia in October 1989. He had left his family behind but took a woman named Adelaide with him.
The group were allowed to stay in Chris Hani's house in Lusaka and Magashule took pride in the fact that he rubbed shoulders with Hani. He later said: "He was one of those people who had a very serious impact on my life."
But one of his fellow exiles from the Hillbrow unit recalls that Hani did not approve of Magashule's behaviour. "Look, Ace is a ladies' man. He likes to always have women with him. So during that time, apart from having Adelaide with him, he was also bringing other women to Hani's house."
This landed Magashule's crew in trouble with Hani and the rest of the ANC's top brass. "They said we were putting the house at risk by bringing strange women there, so we were kicked out."
Approached for comment by the Sunday Times, Magashule referred questions to ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete, who said: "We note your baseless fabrications. They form part of unending and unproven allegations that have been levelled against the SG, with the primary objective to tarnish his image and rewrite his history.
"Reality reveals the total opposite, as his activism in the UDF, the underground and being the longest-serving provincial chairperson remain indisputable facts, which are well known and documented.
"Those with ulterior motives will claim amnesia of this history as they seek to rewrite it. This plot is conspicuously revealed in the publication of this book of lies. If facts were entailed in it, the author would have gone straight to the police with his proof of corruption, instead of writing a book."
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