Act on Ace Magashule graft claims: Thabo Mbeki to the ANC
Former president Thabo Mbeki has called on the ANC to act on allegations of corruption against its secretary-general, Ace Magashule. He said it could not act as if the claims did not exist.
In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, a few days after he endorsed the party ahead of the May 8 elections, Mbeki said the ANC must also remove "thieves" from its list of potential MPs, or risk killing the party.
Mbeki is the most high-profile ANC veteran to speak out against party politicians linked to corruption. The allegations against at least 28 members were made at the Zondo commission of inquiry.
The corruption allegations against Magashule are contained in Gangster State, a book by journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh. Magashule is accused of having given favours to his family and friends, including the Guptas.
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The ANC national executive committee (NEC) has instructed Magashule to stop using the party's platform to defend himself.Mbeki said the NEC needed to decide what action to take against Magashule."It's a worrying development. It's something the ANC must engage," Mbeki said."The NEC must surely discuss this. It must have a look at that and say, what do we do about this? Is there substance to this? And do whatever they must do, but they have to respond. They can't pretend that negative reporting of their secretary-general does not exist."Mbeki said that if the ANC did not accept the findings of its integrity commission and did not make them public, it would "effectively be sentencing the party to death".Magashule hit back hard at Mbeki's statement yesterday, saying: "There are allegations against all ANC officials; from the president all the way to the treasurer-general; ranging from Bosasa, the Public Investment Corporation, etcetera. I can't verify if what you claim president Mbeki said is true, but I find it hard to believe, as president Mbeki understands that we subscribe to a universal law of innocent until proven guilty."The chair of the party's integrity commission, George Mashamba, said the group met on Friday but were yet to meet the ANC leadership to discuss its recommendations.Mbeki said: "If the integrity commission says, 'Thabo Mbeki should not be there, remove him because he is a thief.' If the NEC still keeps me in this position, it will have to explain to the population why they are keeping a thief.
"If [the ANC] disagrees with the integrity commission, it will have to explain," he said.
The commission report is said to recommend ANC deputy president David Mabuza be removed from the list, as well as other top figures who have been implicated in corruption, such as Malusi Gigaba, Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane.
Mbeki said the party could not avoid accounting to the public after the commission had made its judgment on who was not fit to represent the ANC in parliament. "We as the ANC cannot avoid acting on these negatives, having made these commitments. It may not be an easy thing to do but it can't be avoided."
Mbeki came out this week to endorse the party in the May 8 vote, saying that under his successor, Jacob Zuma, it was not possible for him to campaign for the ANC "because I knew things were going wrong".
"I was saying that it would be dishonest for a person like me that knows what's going on - some of it, anyway - to go and say to people, I've got a good story to tell, when I know for a fact there is no good story to tell."
Mbeki said he foresaw the rot in 2007 when he made a bid for a third term as party president. "I knew things were going wrong. Things that are coming up in the commissions, you could see that these things are going wrong," he said.
"By the time we got to Polokwane [for the ANC elective conference of 2007], it was clear to me that we needed to do whatever we could in order to protect the ANC, to deal with this problem."
Mbeki said he knew a lot of "the negatives" of the Zuma years, but that some revelations before the various commissions were "truly frightening".
He said it shocked him that there was a conscious decision to destroy the state.
"There was clearly a decision taken by some people - I don't know who - to destroy Sars and [they] systematically went ahead to do it.
"Now Sars is responsible for 95%, or whatever, of the state revenues. You destroy Sars, you destroy the state, you destroy this democratic government," he said.
"If you listen to Robert McBride, when he presented his evidence to judge Zondo, one of the things he raises is that [former minister of police Nathi] Nhleko worked with a number of police officers to defeat everybody within that sector who was fighting against corruption. He gives his examples.
"Whether he is right or wrong, I don't know. But he is making this assertion that when you talk about state capture corruption in that sector … this process was led by the minister, and the following police officers were working with him," Mbeki said.
Though he endorsed the party in these elections, there had to be a serious conversation, he said.
"It's not the end of the story when we cast our vote on May 8. The day after we've got to say, the ANC, having admitted these things, let's see what we are doing practically to correct these things. It's a commitment that has been made," Mbeki said.