Magashule Scandal

Magashule Scandal

South Africa's President Ramaphosa vowed to root out corruption at an Iftar dinner on Thursday in Cape Town with business leaders and the clergy.

Ramaphosa's comments come amid a political turning point this week after the ruling party suspended its secretary-general, Elias Magashule, over graft charges.

But a defiant Magashule, who is the first top party official to be temporarily forced out under a new policy aimed at turning the page on a litany of graft scandals, said he was not going anywhere. Instead, he said he was suspending Ramaphosa from his position as ANC president.

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, "Many steps are being taken to rid our country of corruption. And those who are corrupt, who have pursued corrupt ways will continue to fight and fight to the end because their life revolves around corruption. But we will end it and they will go where they belong," Ramaphosa said.

Magashule, 61, was given a 30-day ultimatum on March 30 to step aside after being charged with embezzling public funds while he was premier of the Free State province.

He ignored the deadline and refused to resign voluntarily, forcing the party to suspend him.

"You are hereby temporarily suspended with effect from 3 May 2021 until the final outcome of your court proceedings," his deputy Jessie Duarte informed Magashule of his suspension in a letter. Charges against Magashule relate to public funds that were set aside to vet government-built housing with asbestos roofs in 2014 when he headed the provincial government, dubbed a "gangster state" in a book by investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.

The hazardous roofs were never removed, and investigators believe that the equivalent of over $12 million (10 million euros) was pocketed.

Magashule was briefly arrested in November and granted bail on graft charges. He is next expected to appear before a high court in August.

Ramaphosa vowed to fight corruption after taking over from the scandal-hit Jacob Zuma in 2018.

The African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela, which has been ruling the country since the end of white minority rule in 1994, has been at pains to clean up its image, marred by years of graft.

The historic party has been suffering a decline in support in elections in recent years. The country goes to local government polls in October this year.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, said it was not enough to just suspend Magashule, demanding that the party makes sure that "he is put behind bars".

The ANC, South Africa's historic ruling party, has suspended its secretary-general Ace Magashule on corruption charges,

"You are hereby temporarily suspended from 3 May 2021 until the final outcome of your legal proceedings", Magashule was informed of his suspension in a letter signed by his deputy Jessie Duarte, deputy secretary-general of the African National Congress, informed Magashule in a letter,

The letter explained the decision would be "in the best interest" of the party.

But Magashule, the first senior party official to be sidelined in the wake of the ANC's new anti-corruption policy, has assured that he is not going anywhere.

Instead of stepping down, he in turn called on Cyril Ramaphosa to temporarily step down as president, invoking his powers as party secretary general.

a success for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was playing hardball with a divided party.

At the end of March, 61, Ace Magashule, was given a 30-day ultimatum to step down after being accused of misappropriating public funds while serving as premier of the Free State, one of South Africa's nine provinces.

The politician refused to resign, forcing the party to suspend him.

Nelson Mandela's African National Congress (ANC), which has been mired in corruption for several years, is seeking to regain its form in the eyes of dissapointed voters.

But internal supporters of Elias Magashule, nicknamed "Ace", are numerous, especially among supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, who himself has a lot of baggage.

"This is the first really strong sign that the ANC is ready to clean up its act. The ANC still has a long way to go but it is an absolute prerequisite for tackling corruption," David Lewis, director of the NGO Corruption Watch, told AFP.

"They seemed quite determined, but they have also mastered the art of second and third chances," he said, echoing the many sceptics who feared the ANC would not go all the way and sweep "Ace" under the carpet without confronting him.

"Uncle Cyril", as he is known to South Africans for his bonhomie and apparent goodwill, appeared for a long time to be isolated in this tug of war with the 60-year-old, who has been ANC secretary-general since 2017. But his suspension, and the fact that enough ANC leaders gave their endorsement to make it possible, is a sweetness for the president who has vowed to end the scourge of corruption.
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