'Let me not respond' – Magashule mum on Free State, VBS and Gigaba

2018-10-29 21:06
ANC SG Ace Magashule speaking to community members in Mamello, Midvaal (Tshidi Madia, News24)

ANC SG Ace Magashule speaking to community members in Mamello, Midvaal (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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ANC secretary general Ace Magashule was mum on Monday on events unfolding in the Free State and the controversy surrounding Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, however, he was full of promises for Midvaal residents.

Magashule paid visits to the residents of Mamello and Sicelo and held meetings in the two areas as part of the ruling party's blitz campaign in Gauteng.

Surrounded by reporters for the majority of his tour in both areas, Magashule refused to address questions on allegations around missing artworks in the Free State and claims that the province was experiencing serious financial challenges.

Read: Ace Magashule 'gives away' Pierneef painting worth more than R6m

Magashule was at the helm of the province as premier and ANC provincial chairperson until he was elected as the party's secretary general in December 2017.

"Let me not respond to allegations," said Magashule.

"No, no... I am not addressing anything about Free State," he insisted when pushed for an answer.

Election campaign

His refusal to comment comes on the back of his confirmation last week that he had been questioned by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on the controversial Vrede dairy project as well as recent reports on the Free State Development Corporation (FDC), which violated financial regulations by placing a R100m investment with the now collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.

Read more: Public Protector questions Magashule on Vrede dairy project, hearings with others to follow

News24 has established that the FDC, which is state-owned, ignored or bypassed provisions in the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations by placing the investment with VBS. 

Also on the blitz campaign on Monday were ANC leaders deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, who was in Ekurhuleni, chairperson Gwede Mantashe who was in the West Rand, treasurer general Paul Mashatile and other national executive committee (NEC) members who visited communities across Pretoria.

The visits are part of the electioneering machinery of the ANC as South Africa gears up for the 2019 general elections. Both ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and deputy president David Mabuza were not part of the campaign as the president was at the G20 summit and his deputy was on leave.

Magashule had a lot of promises for the residents of Midvaal residents, an area governed by the official opposition the DA.

He committed to helping young people who could not afford to study further than matric and said that he and the ANC would help get them into institutions of higher learning, either in the country or in one of the Brics countries.

'I came to hear from you'

He also promised the residents of far-flung Mamello that he would return with Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier David Makhura in two weeks and that he would bring along officials from social services and home affairs to help community members register for identity documents and social grants. 

"There's a power station here, there is electricity but these people don't have electricity, no toilets, no school.... they have to travel to Heidelberg," said Magashule as he listed the challenges facing the small community.

The secretary general was initially met with some hostility when he arrived in Sicelo, also in the Midvaal, however, he managed to win residents over.

"I have no promises for you, it's my first visit here. I came to see and to hear from you, regarding the needs of this community," said Magashule, who said he would return to the area as well.

However, residents refused to let him leave after addressing a meeting, instead inviting the ANC secretary general to see their living conditions. 

Residents took him on a tour of their informal settlement, where he walked over sewerage on the roads. He was also shown exposed live wires on the ground.

Gigaba matter 'private'

"This is heartbreaking. I cannot believe you live in such conditions," said Magashule.

Magashule told the people of Sicelo that he would bring Ramaphosa and Makhura to the area.

"When people say, 'Don't go there, people are angry', I say, 'No! I am going'," he said, telling residents he was happy to have met with them.

Magashule also committed to one day returning to Sicelo to help some of the informal settlement's struggling students get into institutions of higher education.

Earlier, Magashule was asked to comment on claims made by Home Affairs Minister and ANC NEC member Gigaba that he had reported to the State Security Agency that he was being blackmailed by anonymous people who had illegally obtained a 13-second video which showed Gigaba engaging in a solitary sexual act.

"I can't enter personal and private matters," said Magashule.

Read more on:    anc  |  ace magashule  |  johannesburg  |  service delivery

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