Ace Magashule's bid to overturn his suspension dismissed with costs

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  • Ace Magashule will remain suspended after the high court dismissed his application. 
  • The court delivered its judgment on Friday morning. 
  • Magashule was suspended based on the ANC's step-aside rule.

Ace Magashule has been dealt a blow after the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed, with costs, his application to overturn his suspension as ANC secretary-general.

A full bench of the court ruled on Friday that his suspension was valid, that the ANC's step-aside rule was constitutionally sound. It also ruled that Magashule's attempt to, in turn, suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa had no merit. 

Magashule argued that his rights had been trampled on by his suspension, but the court ruled that he had been afforded a hearing before he was suspended from the ANC.

Judge Jody Kollapen, reading out the judgment on Friday morning said:

He participated in all the processes relating to the development, formulation and adoption of the resolution of the national conference regarding this matter, including the resolution of the NEC that resulted in the formulations of the guidelines on the implementation of the step aside principle.

"Furthermore, he was afforded ample opportunity at various levels of the process leading to his suspension to make representations as to why he should not be suspended. In particular, he had the fullest opportunity and did, in fact, state his case when he appeared before the Integrity Commission as well as in other meetings of the NEC and in other meetings of the leadership of the ANC.

"We, therefore, conclude that the principles of natural justice including Audi Alteram were observed prior to his suspension," Kollapen said.

Magashule was suspended based on the ANC's step-aside rule after being criminally charged in connection with the Free State asbestos eradication tender worth millions of rand.

READ HERE | Five takeaways from day one of Ace Magashule vs ANC showdown

Magashule, who was Free State premier, is facing 21 counts of fraud and corruption.

He argued that the step-aside rule was unconstitutional and that he had been suspended for ulterior reasons, News24 previously reported.

Magashule also attempted to suspend ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and had asked the court to declare that suspension valid.

In handing down judgment, Kollapen also said that rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution could not be struck down because it is silent on the principle of natural justice. The court found that rule 25.70 was constitutional.

READ | Ace Magashule took part in meeting at Ramaphosa's home where his suspension was discussed, court hears

Kollapen said the ANC NEC had resolved that all its members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which they will be suspended in terms of rule 25.70.

"It is not in dispute that Mr Magashule was one of members who have been charged with corruption," Kollapen said. "The contention by him that his suspension was unlawful for lack of compliance with the requirements of rule 25.70 has no merit and stands to be rejected."

The court also found that Ramaphosa was not charged and that it was "simple logic" that his purported suspension was in conflict with the ANC's constitution.

Magashule argued that Ramaphosa should be suspended on the basis that he fundraised for his CR17 campaign. The court dismissed this, saying only those who were criminally charged could face the ANC's step-aside rule. 

The court was "satisfied" that the ANC constitution was consistent with that of the country.

It also found that the decision to suspend Magashule was "effected in terms of the ANC constitution, was precautionary in nature (and) complied with the law relevant to precautionary suspensions". 

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