Ace Magashule, the Secretary General of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress will appear before the party’s integrity commission on Sunday to explains his actions as premier of the central Free State Province.
Magashule is out on 11000 euros bail facing corruption charges over a fraudulent 14 million euro tender on an asbestos factory when he headed the province .
The decision to have the hearing on Sunday was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the eve of World Anti Corruption Day.
He was reporting on a tense two-day meeting of the party’s top decision-making body the National Executive Committee.
Ramaphosa is claiming a victory saying that body has not retreated from its decision at the party’s 54th national conference that members charged with corruption against the party or the country should step aside.
Magashule and his supporters are fighting this. They have produced five legal opinions calling on the executive to drop this demand and acknowledge that members facing charges are protected by the legal maxim that they are innocent until proven guilty.
Ramaphosa counters this with the assertion that legal opinions notwithstanding the ANC in voluntary organization that binds members to decisions of the executive.
It will be for the party Top Six – of which both Ramaphosa and Magashule are members – to decide on what action to take after the Integrity Commission has deliberated.
John Steenhuisen, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance has called Ramaphosa’s action “spineless”.
Steenhuisen says the Integrity Commission is like a court in which the judges are sympathetic with the corrupt.
“This is a spineless move which proves that President is too weak to take decisive action against has party’s most corrupt opting once again to choose the ANC over South Africa, kowtowing to both his comrades and the voters,” says Steenhuisen.
Analysts says this is the beginning of the process to remove Magashule and ANC members guilty of corruption.
The extent of corruption in South Africa is daily underlined at hearing of the Zondo Commission into state capture.
While there is growing disenchantment with the ANC over this, the majority of voters continue to support the party.
Ramaphosa says critics will be disappointed that the final NEC meeting of the year did produce the walk outs and punch ups they predicted.
He rounded on ANC members making statements at odds with decisions of the executive and said its was unacceptable for supporters of Magashule to have burned ANC regalia outside the court where he appeared last month.
His case has been adjourned until February next year.
This will be a busy month in court for the ANC. Former President Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial has also been postponed until February.
Ramaphosa took a swipe at Zuma and others who had disrespected the Zondo Commission.
Zuma walked out of the commission last month, without permission, when Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo refused to recuse himself.
Zuma has been sumonsed to appear before Zondo in January and February next year.