JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress expelled its former secretary-general on Monday for misconduct and other violations of party rules, as he also faces corruption charges in a criminal case.
Once-influential Ace Magashule is on trial over alleged embezzlement of government contract money worth over $13million when he was premier of the Free State province before his rise to the top administrative post of the ANC.
Magashule was suspended as general secretary in 2021 after being charged with multiple counts of corruption, money laundering and fraud. He was suspended under the ANC’s “step-out” policy, which requires people in leadership positions to resign from their positions while facing criminal charges.
Magashule refused to resign and even issued a letter saying he was suspending South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC leader, from office. His defiance and refusal to apologize for the letter led to him being charged with misconduct by the ANC’s disciplinary committee.
Magashule was found guilty of four breaches of party rules by the National Disciplinary Committee and given seven days to respond to the findings, the ANC said. He did not respond, the party said.
“Accordingly, the NDC has confirmed the expulsion of Comrade Ace Magashule from the ANC as a final sanction,” the party said in a statement on Monday.
Magashule is seen as close to Ramaphosa’s political rival, former President Jacob Zuma, but his suspension led to him being dropped from the ANC conference in December, when Ramaphosa was re-elected as party leader.
Magashule, 63, faces criminal charges for allegedly personally benefiting from money intended to be used to remove asbestos from the homes of residents of the Free State province where he served as premier from 2009 to 2018.
His co-defendants in the case include businessmen closely linked to the ANC and former officials of the provincial government of the Free State, which he led at the time.
Last month, Magashule filed an appeal asking that the charges against him be dismissed by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.
Zuma also faces major corruption charges related to an arms deal signed by the South African government in 1999 worth more than $1 billion. The charges relate to a period prior to Zuma’s presidency, but when he was a rising politician in the ANC.
The cases against Zuma and Magashule are considered to be at the forefront of Ramaphosa’s drive to root out corruption in the ruling party and government of Africa’s most industrialized economy, corruption is said to have become widespread during the presidency of Zuma from 2009 to 2018.
However, Ramaphosa was embroiled in his own scandal after being accused of breaking foreign currency regulations and failing to disclose the theft of a large amount of US dollar cash that was kept in his ranch.
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