South Africa

STEP-ASIDE RULE

Ace’s political ambitions ‘thwarted’… for now — political analyst on Magashule’s suspension appeal loss

Ace’s political ambitions ‘thwarted’… for now — political analyst on Magashule’s suspension appeal loss
Suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The suspended ANC secretary-general has once again had the case to overturn his temporary suspension dismissed. This time, by the highest court in the country. One political analyst says the politician might be done, but only in the immediate term.

In the final nail of Ace Magashule’s coffin, the Constitutional Court dismissed the former ANC secretary-general’s bid to have his suspension from the ruling party’s secretary-general position overturned. 

The ruling, which nailed Magashule in a single paragraph, said the court had considered the application for leave to appeal and decided that it should be refused for lack of potential success. 

“It (the court) has concluded that, although there are no reasonable prospects of success on the merits of the application for leave to appeal, the delay in bringing the application for leave to appeal is minimal, the explanation for the delay is adequate and there is no prejudice to the respondents,” the court said, refusing the leave to appeal with costs. 

The three respondents in the case are President Cyril Ramaphosa, the late Jessie Duarte who served as ANC deputy secretary-general, and the party itself; the ANC. 

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Magashule’s application for leave to appeal against his suspension as the party’s secretary-general on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Supreme Court slaps down Ace Magashule’s appeal against suspension

The former party official was suspended last year in May. Magashule was relieved of his duties as part of the ANC’s step-aside policy which mandates members facing severe criminal charges be relieved from their official party duties. 

Magashule and 15 others are being charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering for the R255-million Free State asbestos scandal. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Ace Magashule’s R255m case ‘bears hallmarks of corruption’, says Free State prosecuting authority

The politician has been making waves by running for the ANC’s Top Six come the party’s national elective conference in December, under the party’s Radical Economic Transformation faction. With the charges hanging over him, the suspended politician would not be eligible to run for a position unless he has been cleared of corruption charges by then. 

Political analyst Sandile Swana told Daily Maverick that the step-aside rule was redundant as the ANC constitution already provided for disciplinary proceedings of party officials, but praised the move to have the suspended party official temporarily relieved of his duties.  


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“This suspension according to the constitution is good. However, for his political ambition; a person who has got the types of offences morally, ethically, and organisationally, should not stand for office…His own individual ambitions are now thwarted,” said Swana. 

Magashule has previously stated that his political ambitions are still on the horizon and that he was still playing a pivotal role in the ANC branches in the Free State province where he was previously premier. 

“Charge or no charge, I’m going to stand [at the ANC elective conference] if nominated, because I was elected by branches and the branches of the country must know that,” Magashule said outside of court in Bloemfontein a few months ago where he appeared for pre-trial proceedings. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Free State asbestos corruption case: Ace Magashule claims delays ‘deliberate’ ahead of ANC’s elective conference

Swana said the tactic to mobilise ANC branches to elect him to the Top Six and spur his chances of running in the national elective conference, was not going to work. 

“So once you are suspended in terms of the constitution and the courts have already pronounced themselves that you are suspended in terms of the constitution of the organisation…your options are actually finished. You can’t go to a number of branches to overturn the constitution of the ANC. So that’s not gonna help anything. Really, his case (career) is over!” the analyst said. 

Magashule’s suspension is temporary until the court makes its final ruling on the asbestos case scandal. Swana added, however, that by the time the ruling came, the party would have long finalised its Top Six. 

“Ace is done for this term of office; the term starting in December. Remember, [Tony] Yengeni is from prison; so being done for is for a period of time, not permanent. Unless in the meantime there is another hearing — which has not been done — banning him for life. His case will be the same as that of Yengeni,” said Swana. 

Senior ANC leader Tony Yengeni has previously been prosecuted for fraud and served four months of this four-year sentence. Prior to his arrest, Yengeni served as a member of parliament and has since ascended party ranks as a member of the National Executive Committee as of 2007. 

“The standard by which you get fired by the ANC is very low. It is technical, legalistic — it’s not ethical…they are not judging you on morality…their programme of renewal is still at an infancy stage, because renewal should be moral, not legalistic. Your morals should tell us if you can stand for office or not, not whether you are found guilty or not. There are so many ways of winning a court case even when we know that you have done something wrong. Court cases are very technical. It’s easy to get away with murder,” Swana said. DM

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