It is becoming more and more evident that we may be seeing the last days of Ace Magashule as the country awaits with bated breath the results of the court action that he embarked on with the South Gauteng High Court on Friday.
From a once-popular and powerful premier of the Free State Province, the road has been long and torturous for Ace, whose christened name is Elias Sekgobelo Magashule, became the fifth Premier of the Free State province and it is while he was in this position that he is alleged to have been involved in several deals that resulted in the charges that have been brought against him. He was arrested on the 10th of November 2020 and is facing 21 charges of corruption, theft, fraud, and money laundering. Recently, he was suspended from his powerful Secretary-General position in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in what has come to be known as the step aside resolution.
When the resolution that all leaders who had been charged with corruption, murder, gender-based violence and other such offences needed to step aside, the final stage was consulting with party elders who came up with the following guidelines in the implementation of the resolution:
- Stepping aside following indictment on criminal charges;
- Temporary suspension following indictment on criminal charges;
- Temporary suspension pending ANC disciplinary processes following indictment on criminal charges;
- Dealing with allegations of corruption or serious crime.
Magashule has described the resolution as nothing more than a guise to ensure that the “re-election of president Cyril Ramaphosa and his faction in the next national conference is made easier”.
Following his suspension, Magashule went into overdrive to try and fight for his survival both as an individual and as the Secretary-General of the ruling party. He first argued that not only those members who are charged should be made to step aside but also those that are suspected of offences. When this was not accepted by the leadership, Magashule opted instead to use the 30 days grace period ostensibly to consult with the party leaders. He then went on an expedition of consultation which took him to Nkandla to meet with former president Zuma, to Kgalema Motlanthe and to Thabo Mbeki. After these consultations, when the thirty-day grace period came to an end, Magashule was silent about stepping aside, prompting the ANC leadership to move to suspend him from the Secretary-General position in the party. However, a defiant Magashule dug his heels in and, in his turn, served the president of the party, Cyril Ramaphosa with a suspension. In addition, he went on to attend the NEC meeting because, in his words, he had appealed the suspension and was therefore still the SG. He had to be thrown out of the virtual meeting. Since he had not found a way to make his stand at the NEC meeting, Magashule then threw all his energy into a court case in which he questioned the legality of his suspension, the requirement for him to make a public apology and for the court to sustain his own suspension of Ramaphosa.
The question on everyone’s mind at the moment is: Does Magashule’s court bid represent the beginning of a long and arduous battle within the ruling party or is it, as some have said, a sign of desperation and are in effect, the last kicks of the proverbial dying horse?