Top ANC official refuses to step down

Magashule is the most senior ANC official who risks prosecution since President Ramaphosa took office

The secretary-general of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) has refused to comply with his suspension after being charged with corruption.

Ace Magashule denies the charges and said that he had instead suspended President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The dispute illustrates a power struggle within the governing party.

The president warned that any ANC members facing corruption charges would also face suspension if they did not leave their posts within 30 days.

The ANC tougher code of conduct is being seen as a test of whether the party of Nelson Mandela is serious about ending years of corruption within government.

On 30 March, Mr Magashule was given a 30-day ultimatum to step down after being charged with embezzling public funds while he was premier of the Free State province. He refused to resign voluntarily, which resulted in the ANC suspending him.

A party letter on Monday said the decision to suspend Mr Magashule would be “in the best interest of the organisation”.

President Ramaphosa meets members of the public

President Ramaphosa (right) led the ANC to victory in the 2019 general election

But on Wednesday, he responded in a letter to President Ramaphosa and his deputy Jessie Duarte that he was “appealing this unconstitutional suspension” and would stay in the job while his appeal was ongoing.

He then vowed to suspend the president, but the ANC called on Mr Magashule to “respect” the party decision.

Mr Magashule is the most senior ANC official who risks prosecution since President Ramaphosa took office in 2018. Mr Ramaphosa promised to tackle corruption and promote good governance, describing his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s time in office as “nine wasted years”.

Mr Ramaphosa and Mr Magashule come from rival factions.

David Lewis, head of the Corruption Watch NGO, said Mr Magashule’s removal was the “first really strong sign that the ANC is prepared to clean up its own ranks”, according to the AFP news agency.

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