The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is, once again,
facing the divisive force of factionalism, this time, with Secretary General Ace
Magashule at the fore.
As a solid ally of former president Jacob Zuma, with dubious, yet previously unconfirmed, connections to the infamous Gupta family, Magashule entered the new administrative fray as a proverbial dark horse. His time as Secretary General has been marred by numerous scandals, none so fierce as allegations tabled by investigate journalist, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, in his latest offering: Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture.
Ace Magashule and the alleged Free State looting spree
Myburgh’s book delves deep into the grim world of State Capture, where underhandedness and unmitigated corruption between government and corporate entities challenge the very sovereignty of South Africa. At the centre of this sordid story is Ace Magashule, who, during his tenure as Premier of the Free State Province, is accused of looting state coffers for his own financial gain.
The way in which this alleged looting took place, however, has
everybody on the edge of their seats, with Myburgh’s book firmly in hand.
Former Mangaung mayor Thabo Manyoni claims that Magashule introduced
him to the Guptas, who then offered him a cash-stuffed envelope in return for his
‘cooperation’. Magashule is also accused of diverting millions of rands,
destined for low-cost housing in the Free State, into his own bank account. His
alleged associate in this regard, businessman Ignatius Mpambani, was assassinated
It’s also alleged that Magashule received the dubious
nickname, “Mr Ten Percent”, for his ‘tax’ of 10% on all government
business in the Free State.
ANC statement sows seeds of division
THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS DENOUNCES THE FAKE NEWS FRONT PAGE PROPAGANDA PUBLISHED TODAY BY THE SUNDAY TIMES ANC CITY PRESS, AND SAY HANDS OFF OUR SG! pic.twitter.com/BazSBnUUB6
— #GrowSouthAfrica (@MYANC) March 31, 2019
The revelations have, by all accounts, put the ANC into a tailspin. The ruling party quickly drafted a statement, refuting the claims published by Myburgh, blasting the book as ‘fake news’ and works of ‘Stratcom’. Magashule, himself, has confirmed that he is considering taking legal action against Myburgh. The Secretary General blasted publications which chose to cover the story, saying:
“Our work towards electoral victory for ANC cannot be deterred by fake news, smear, and gutter journalism of papers such as the Sunday Times. The ANC will soldier on to a landslide victory. We remain unshaken and undistracted!”
Despite facing widespread condemnation, from the public,
opposition parties and comrades alike, ANC acting spokesperson, Dakota Legoete,
has refused to retract the statement first issued on Sunday. While the ANC
initially vowed to blindly defend Magashule in the face of fierce criticism,
some members of the party are calling for an inquiry into the claims made by Myburgh.
Due to the seriousness of the allegations, and their
propensity to further divide the ruling party, a special ANC national executive
committee meeting was called on Monday. While the exact details of this meeting
are yet to be made public, party insiders have claimed that division is rife
along loyalist lines.
“Magashule on his own”
This has not been discussed at the NEC. I am not prepared to simply dismiss all the allegations as lies. Nor would most of my NEC comrades.
Magashule target of ‘direct and well-calculated attack’ – ANChttps://t.co/ESwlB8s8Bq?
shared via @News24
— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) March 31, 2019
Minister of Tourism and ANC senior, Derek Hanekom, has publicly
announced his suspicions, thereby effectively breaking rank with the party and
denouncing its blind defence policy. Hannekom took to Twitter and said:
“I am not prepared to simply dismiss all the allegations as lies. Nor would most of my NEC comrades.”
Indeed, sources close to the party claim that some NEC
members are in favour of hanging Magashule out to dry. After much deliberation,
it was apparently decided that Magashule would have to deal with Myburgh and
the allegations, on his own accord.
This contention, which will surely have repercussions concerning Magashule’s staunch support base, comes at the most inopportune time for the ANC. With just over a month to go before the 8 May elections, an embattled Magashule is leading the campaign charge alongside other senior ANC members.
Campaign head, Fikile Mbalula, has noted that the controversial candidate list, submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), needs to be investigated by the ANC’s integrity commission.