After an intense virtual national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the ANC that lasted two days, it was agreed the ruling party’s embattled secretary-general, Ace Magashule, must explain himself to the integrity commission.
This eyebrow-raising decision was announced by party leader Cyril Ramaphosa while delivering his closing address of the meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
On November 13, Magashule appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court charged for allegedly playing a corrupt hand in the R255 million asbestos project which happened while he was the premier of the Free State.
He is currently out on R200 000 bail pending the resumption of the case in February, when he will appear with the likes of Edwin Sodi.
In his preamble announcing the party’s move against Magashule, Ramaphosa said the ruling party’s stance on corruption and on members accused of corruption has not changed.
This was in reference to the fact that they went to the highly charged meeting with expectations that they would have to drop a demand (as advised by some legal experts) that members accused of corruption should step aside even before they are found guilty.
Instead, Ramaphosa stressed that there would be “no retreat” from their 54th national conference and August resolutions that members accused of wrongdoing must step aside. However, he added that party officials are still trying to finalise guidelines on how this would be implemented.
He then announced that the NEC meeting welcomed an undertaking by Magashule to go to the integrity commission, chaired by party veteran George Mashamba, and present his case.
“It is in this regard that we welcome our secretary-general’s decision to present himself to the integrity commission on the 12th of December 2020.
’’The officials (top six) will process the outcomes of that engagement and the determination by the integrity commission and report to the NWC (national working committee) and as well as the NEC within the broad context of the guidelines that needs to be put together,” he announced, while a stony-faced Magashule watched from the sidelines, sometimes nodding incoherently.
While this could be seen as a victory for Ramaphosa’s faction, which went to the meeting convinced it would be able to force Magashule to step aside and eventually out, it could be seen as a minor victory for the secretary-general as he was not totally pushed out pending his meeting with the commission.