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OUR TAKE: ACE OFF BASE: WILL HE SEE THE SIGNS?

As we’ve told you before, the ANC has recently revived a “step-aside rule”. This says that people in the party accused in court of corruption should step down from both their government and party positions.

But Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general who is facing various corruption and maladministration charges, has refused to do so. Now, the ANC has obtained a legal opinion which is a further blow to its efforts to root out corruption: forcing people to step aside is basically suspending them – something that can’t happen without due process.

It’s easy to give up on the ANC entirely with news like this.

But there IS precedent for what the party wants to achieve. 

Perhaps the best example is Thabo Mbeki. The former president was infamously “recalled” by the ANC in September 2008. The party accused him of misusing his power, in relation to Jacob Zuma’s corruption charges. Mbeki was later vindicated in court, but at the time he respected the party’s wishes and resigned before his term of office as president ended.

Mbeki had every legal right to refuse. But in stepping down, he arguably saved the country a constitutional crisis.

And this year, two public servants with excellent reputations got caught up in a PPE scandal: Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and Khusela Diko, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson. Both were removed from government and ANC duties when allegations of conflicts of interests arose involving their families and PPE contracts.

Neither have been found guilty of any wrongdoing and, unlike Magashule, neither have been formally charged.

If Mbeki, Diko and Masuku could show discipline and abide by party decisions, who is Magashule to refuse? The ANC needs to take a hard stance against him as they did with the other three. It has the opportunity to do so when its most senior leaders meet for the NEC next weekend. So far, the ANC hasn’t told Magashule to step down. But he’s one of the most senior leaders in the governing party – it shouldn’t have to. 

This story was originally published in The Wrap here.

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