ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule will retain his position even as he is set to appear before the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday on charges related to the R255 million asbestos audit contract in the Free State.
The governing party’s top six leaders said this at a media briefing on Wednesday. The decision was taken at its meeting on Tuesday evening after a warrant for Magashule’s arrest was signed by the National Director of Public Prosecutions.
Jessie Duarte, ANC deputy secretary-general, said the meeting was briefed by Magashule who updated the party’s leadership on the warrant and what steps he would be taking after this.
Duarte said Magashule urged ANC structures and supporters not to march, make placards or T-shirts bearing his name when he appears in court on Friday. The next NEC meeting is scheduled for later this month. However, Duarte said this could be discussed earlier if a special NEC meeting was convened.
“Comrade Magashule briefed the officials about the content of the letter he received [from the Hawks], which indicates that he will be charged under section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. These charges relate to his alleged failure to exercise oversight while he was premier of the Free State.
“The secretary-general assured officials that he will fully cooperate with the law enforcement agencies and will present himself to court on Friday,” said Duarte.
She added that Magashule expressly indicated that he preferred not to have any individuals or groups “marching, printing posters, T-shirts and placards on this matter and in his name”.
Paul Mashatile, ANC treasurer-general, clarified that as things stood, Magashule would remain in his position as his stepping down was not on the meeting’s agenda on Tuesday.
“No, we did not discuss that [Magashule stepping down]. The secretary-general discussed the contents of the letter [warrant] that he had received [from the Hawks] and he said he would go to court on Friday.
“Magashule did not speak about stepping aside and the meeting did not take a resolution regarding this matter. The matter may be addressed in the ANC’s next NEC meeting. The ANC is seized with that matter and after the next NEC meeting we should have a resolution,” said Mashatile.
He said ANC leaders such as Ekurhuleni chairperson, Mzwandile Masina, Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus and others who have indicated that they will support Magashule are free to do so as long as they do this in their personal capacity.
“The matter of supporting comrades has been discussed before when [former president Jacob] Zuma was appearing in court. We said members can go and support each other as long as they do not purport to do so representing the ANC,” said Mashatile.