Rumours of dodgy deals plague Mabuza, Magashule

Johannesburg - Free State Premier Ace Magashule and his counterpart from Mpumalanga, David Mabuza, take up their newly attained positions in the ANC’s top 6, following years of rumours about allegedly corrupt dealings in their home provinces.

The ANC’s 54th elective conference has voted Magashule into the influential position of the party’s secretary-general. Magashule's clinching of the position ahead of former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu was perhaps the conference’s most surprising moment.

All indications are that Mchunu’s backers will challenge Magashule’s election amidst claims that 63 votes were, somehow, not taken into account before the results were announced on Monday.  

READ: Ramaphosa camp divided over SG vote dispute

Both Mabuza and Magashule have been premier of their respective provinces since 2009.

Magashule was dragged into the #GuptaLeaks scandal this year when amaBhungane and Scorpio revealed that the Guptas had channelled requests for favours to Magashule via the latter’s son, Tshepiso. Like President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, Tshepiso had been drawn into the Gupta business empire several years ago. 

Tshepiso and his brother, Thato, have both travelled to Dubai at the Guptas’ expense, where they stayed at the upmarket Oberoi Hotel, according to the leaked documents.

Though Magashule has not yet been directly implicated in the Vrede dairy project money laundering scandal — perhaps one of the most shocking indications of the abuse of taxpayers’ money that emanated from the leaked emails — it would come as a surprise if the Free State premier was completely unaware of the costly and now failed agriculture project.

'Dubious character'

AmaBhungane has detailed how millions of rands from the project had been diverted from the Free State’s coffers to ultimately help pay for the Guptas’ lavish wedding celebrations at Sun City in 2013. 

Mabuza has had to deal with questions about his finances ever since his first full year in office as Mpumalanga premier.

In 2010, it emerged that an amount of R14m in cash was allegedly stolen from Mabuza’s house on his farm near Barberton.

READ: David Mabuza: from dirty politician to ANC kingmaker

The amount raised questions as to what a government official was doing with so much money in cash. Local police later claimed that only R1 200 had been stolen from Mabuza. 

Mabuza has also been implicated in the scourge of political killings that have ravaged provinces such as Mpumalanga, though no evidence has ever surfaced to support such allegations. 

In 2009, the Mail & Guardian reported that Magashule was accused in court papers of soliciting a R3m bribe in connection with a casino deal in the Free State. Magashule strongly denied the allegations.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga recently told News24 that Mabuza was a "dubious character".

"It’s a well-known secret that he’s been involved in tender fraud in Mpumalanga," claimed Mathekga.

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