You're on your own, Ace: ANC tells Magashule as he faces corruption allegations
ANC tells Magashule to keep the party out of his defence against corruption allegations
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been told by the party's national executive committee (NEC) to stop using ANC platforms to defend himself against allegations of corruption.
The message is said to have been delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he summarised a discussion on the matter at the party's meeting after lunch on Monday.
This comes after the ANC issued a bizarre statement last Sunday, dismissing reports in the Sunday Times and City Press. The reports contained allegations of corruption against Magashule, which appear in a book by journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.
The statement labelled Myburgh's book "fake news". It used terms not normally used by the ANC, calling the two Sunday newspapers "Stratcom media".
Insiders in the ANC communications team said they were shocked by the statement because none had written it.
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LEGAL ACTIONSeveral NEC members said Ramaphosa told the meeting that the party's top officials had met Magashule during lunch and he had informed them of his plans to take legal action."The meeting resolved that this is not an ANC matter … it is the SG's issue and he should handle it outside of the ANC," said an NEC member.Another member said: "Comrade Ace was not on the agenda in the NEC meeting. But because of this book and the subsequent news articles, this matter came up."It was not a long discussion because we felt that it is not a pressing matter. However, the leadership felt that the SG must manage these allegations against him outside of the parameters of the ANC."The concern is that once ANC machinery and Luthuli House get mixed up in the personal battles of comrades, we will be sidetracked from the core focus, which is winning elections."So it was made clear that the SG and whatever allegations he is facing are not allegations against the ANC and he must confront that in his personal capacity."
Luthuli House insiders suspect the statement defending Magashule was drafted by Jacob Zuma loyalist Carl Niehaus, spokesperson of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association. He denied this.
"I am not involved in the communications department, I am in the SG's office," Niehaus said. "I am involved in the general activities of the SG's office and working with the SG in the election campaign. I am in no way involved in the communications. The statement was issued, as you would know, by comrade Dakota [Legoete]."
But insiders described a divided Luthuli House where decisions were taken based on Ramaphosa/Magashule factions.
In the statement released after Monday's meeting, no mention was made that Magashule had been told to stop using the ANC to defend himself.
"Why this was not reflected in the NEC statement . I'm flabbergasted," said a party leader.
Later, Magashule gave an interview to news channel eNCA.
ANC acting spokesperson Dakota Legoete confirmed the NEC had decided Magashule should face the allegations in his personal capacity. "The issue related to the book about the SG is that the SG will take it alone as an individual because it involves his era as premier, not his current position of SG."
He said the decision was not included in the NEC statement because it had not been on the agenda and was raised from the floor.
"In order for a matter to find itself in a statement it must have been an agenda item which the NEC discusses and finalised on.
"Any matter raised in a meeting in between discussions of other agenda items does not necessarily warrant a decision," he said.
Asked if the earlier statement, denouncing news articles emanating from the book as "fake news" and "propaganda" and referring to the "typical Stratcom-style fake-news book", originated from Magashule's office or from the communications team, Legoete said there was no division between his office and that of Magashule.
"The SG, as the overall engine of the ANC and the authority, any statement that we issue we will consult with the SG's office, and the SG himself also has direct opportunity to make inputs, comments or advice," he said.
More allegations of corruption were made against Magashule on Friday when former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana told the Zondo commission Magashule admitted receiving R1m a month from Rajesh Gupta in return for helping the Gupta family businesses score state deals.
Pressure is mounting on Magashule to come clean on the allegations.
Yesterday, ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said it would be advisable for him to appear before the party's integrity commission to explain himself. "Normally we encourage the leaders of the ANC to appear before our own integrity commission, but the commission can also call you if they think the allegations are that serious." - Additional reporting by Thabo Mokone