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Ace Magashule shows President Ramaphosa middle finger: “I’ll never apologise to you”

ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule has shown the party’s second-highest decision-making body, the national executive committee, and President Cyril Ramaphosa the middle finger and vowed: “I won’t apologise”.

ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa displayed his resoluteness for all to see who is boss by giving Magashule his marching orders and telling him to apologise. Backed by a strong endorsement from the party’s top brass national executive committee (NEC), Ramaphosa told Magashule to stay at home and apologise publicly for undermining him with an unwarranted suspension.

But an adamant Magashule vowed he would not apologise to anyone and he would proceed with legal action to challenge his suspension by the ANC. A reliable source close to Magashule, who said he met him soon after Ramaphosa made the announcement, said the secretary-general would pursue legal action and nothing would stop him from speaking publicly, or doing what he wanted to do.

“The secretary-general has appealed the suspension, he will proceed with legal action. But he will not apologise because he is convinced of the position he has taken,” the source said.

Ramaphosa, in post-NEC closing remarks, said the letter Magashule wrote to suspend him was seen by the NEC as “not authorised”, “not mandated” by any structure of the movement and in flagrant violation of ANC rules, norms and the constitution. The NEC stopped short of hauling him before a disciplinary committee for putting the party into disrepute.

Instead, he was ordered to make a public apology to party structures and members. Whether he will do this remains to be seen. The sidelined secretary-general is left with two choices: to accept the party’s censure and humble himself to Ramaphosa, or defy and face disciplinary action that could see him being expelled.

A clear sign that the ANC wanted to see the back of Magashule was its appointment of deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte to take over Magashule’s duties as secretary-general until his criminal trial was concluded.

Ramaphosa indicated that Duarte was abused by Magashule’s supporters at Luthuli House. He condemned the “unwarranted attacks” and “insults” by staff at Luthuli House for carrying out a duty she was asked to do by the NEC, national working committee and senior ANC officials.

The NEC’s decision ended speculation the ANC could ditch its step-aside rule in a bow to pressure from Magashule’s supporters in the NEC and outside the party. However, the governing party will still go on a lekgotla to discuss strategies to strengthen its renewal and unity project as suggested by former party president Thabo Mbeki. But all this will happen without Magashule.

Magashule’s supporters pushed for the lekgotla in the hope it would accompany the shelving of the step-aside rule and withdrawal of the suspensions of Magashule, ANC MP Bongani Bongo and others. The NEC did not entertain Magashule’s ally, Dakota Legoete, and some branches in eThekwini and North West, which called for a special elective conference.

The ex-wife of former state security minister Bongani Bongo has recently been added as an accused in his corruption and money laundering case in the Mbombela magistrate’s court.  The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Sandile Nkosi had handed herself over to the police and appeared briefly in court. She was granted bail of R10,000.

A transaction in her personal bank account led authorities to believe she may have been part of fraudulent activity in which her former husband and 10 others were implicated.

“It is alleged Nkosi received R1m from Singwane Attorneys after the Mpumalanga department of human settlements paid R52m to Singwane Attorneys without any basis for such payment. She never had any business dealings with Singwane Attorneys nor was she a client who gave Singwane Attorneys instructions to institute a civil action for claim of any money,” said NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema.

“Importantly, Singwane Attorneys were appointed by the [department] on recommendations by Bongo. Furthermore, payments by the [department] to Singwane Attorneys were recommended by Bongo,” he added.

Ngwema said Nkosi will join Bongo and the 10 other accused when the case returns to court on May 4. He added that they collectively faced charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act. The charges are in connection with the R37.5m sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, eMalahleni, by the Mpumalanga department of human settlements, ostensibly on behalf of the eMalahleni municipality.

Some of the accused, acting in consent and with common purpose, allegedly exploited the normal phenomenon of purchase of land by the government by misrepresenting facts to the department regarding ownership and the true sale price of the farm. The NPA said the real owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes van Tonder, was paid only R15m for the farm from the R37.5m.

The money was paid into the trust account of Singwane Attorneys in their capacity as conveyancer appointed by the department. Van Tonder paid R1.5m commission to Pam Golding as estate agents for the transaction.

Singwane, who was not instructed by the department, also allegedly paid R22.5m to a company known as Little River Trading, which, the state alleges, enabled the accused to steal the money. At the time these alleged crimes were committed, Bongo still worked in the legal department of the Mpumalanga human settlements department.

The other accused in the case are Sipho Joel Bongo, who is the former minister’s brother, Robert Burwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Harrington Sizwakhendaba Dhlamini, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka and Sibongile Mercy Mdaka.

The companies linked to them were also listed and charged are;  Little River Trading 156 (Pty) Ltd, Broad Market Trading 204 (Pty) Ltd, Bongiveli CC, and Pfuka Afrika CC.

Last month the high court in the Western Cape cleared Bongo of bribery charges. He had been accused of attempting to bribe Eskom inquiry evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara. Speaking outside court after that hearing, Bongo said a faction within the ANC was behind his prosecution because they believed he had access to files containing the names of “spies”.

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