Thursday, November 12, 2020

There is other news!

 Stanley - Thursday

I have to say, despite the ongoing machinations in the good old US of A with respect to the election, I have been in a considerably better mood over the last week. 

With an event of the global importance of the American election, it is not surprising that other important events are relegated to the background. One such event took place in South Africa this week - the issue of an arrest warrant by the anti-corruption unit called the Hawks, for Ace Magashule, the Secretary-General of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. He is accused of a number of crimes, all related to a big contract that was awarded when he was premier of the Free State province. This improved my mood even more.

ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule

All the charges stem from a $15 contract awarded in 2014 to several companies for the removal of asbestos from low-income houses. Magashule was the head of the provincial government in the Free State at the time. The allegations are that these businessmen and state officials conspired to steal money from taxpayers by inflating, manipulating, or otherwise corrupting government contracts.

There are an additional seven suspects, including government officials and top-end business owners. They were charged with corruption, fraud, and the contravention of various asbestos regulations as laid out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They were  granted bail ranging between R50,000 ($3,500) and R500,000 ($35,000).

In a related development, officials from South Africa's Asset Forfeiture Unit confiscated a bright red Ferrari from one of the other suspects, along with a Bentley convertible, and two villas.

This case is of great significance because it is the first time since President Ramaphosa pledged a war against corruption that an official this high up in the ANC has been charged. It is also a case fraught with political overtones because Magashule belongs to a strong faction inside the ANC opposed to Ramaphosa and aligned with ousted and disgraced former president, Jacob Zuma.

Already, problems are beginning to appear. A few months ago, at a special anti-corruption National Executive Council meeting, the ANC restated a 2015 resolution that “those accused of corruption and other serious crimes against the people, including those charged in courts, may be expected to step aside from their positions or responsibilities”.

However, Magashule has not stepped aside at this stage and, of course, protests his innocence. "I'm not worried at all because I know I haven't done anything wrong as a law abiding citizen of South Africa."

I expect other officials aligned with his faction of the ANC to come rushing to his side with theories as bizarre as some of those we are seeing in the USA at the moment.

If Magashule is formally charged and successfully defends himself, it will weaken President Ramaphosa's chances of re-election. If that happens, we may see a President Magashule and a return to ZUMA-era looting. If he is successfully charged, Ramaphosa's stock will soar and we'll see more present and former ANC officials scurrying for cover.


  1. "All the charges stem from a $15 contract awarded in 2014..." I know that wages are quite low in some African nations, but that seems absurdly low for charges of corruption. That's barely minimum wages for some places in the U.S. Of course, life is cheap, as they say, so $15 might go quite a ways...

  2. Anti-corrution is a hard row to hoe anywhere on the globe. How I hope Ramaphosa succeeds. It would give hope to others fighting that fight around the globe!

  3. I think there is a "million" missing. (Actually fifteen million is missing.) We have to hope that this us the beginning of the end for Ace and his kleptomaniac colleagues.