By Loyiso Sidimba
A defiant suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule vowed to continue addressing gatherings despite the South Gauteng High Court dismissing his bid to overturn his suspension for failing to step aside after being criminally charged.
Magashule suggested the governing party only implemented its step aside rule after he was charged in November last year with corruption, fraud and money laundering charges for his alleged role in the R255 million Free State asbestos roofing eradication project during his tenure as the province’s premier.
He said he had rights to speak and freedom of association and that the ANC cannot tell him he must not talk to people.
“The universal principle is innocent until proven otherwise. I have been saying this, many comrades have been saying this, those who step aside voluntarily, some of them, one or two, stepped aside because there were people who were charged long before, immediately, even before 2017, with corruption, they never stepped aside,” he said.
He said that those who stepped aside were encouraged to do so after he was charged because it was a well-managed political manipulation.
”Let’s leave the legal, constitutional issues to the lawyers because they will deal with that I will deal with politics, I will be briefing structures of the ANC wherever I go,” Magashule insisted.
The terms of Magashule’s temporary suspension include that he may not represent the party publicly; make public pronouncements on matters related to it and mobilise its structures on his stepping aside.
However, Magashule maintained that due to his appeal, the status quo that existed before he was suspended in May remained.
“The ANC has taken its own decisions against me, I’ve gone to court to challenge those decisions. Today (Yesterday), at the high court they have won, as I am appealing I’ve got 15 days to appeal. My lawyers are already busy with the appeal papers. Once I appeal, I can still address people, I can address a branch anywhere but because of Covid-19 I am not doing that,” he said.
Magashule added: “When there is no Covid-19, gatherings are allowed, like any other person, because I have appealed, I will be able to go and address a mass meeting.”
This week, the ANC said it would ask Magashule to explain his comments outside the now incarcerated former president Jacob Zuma’s KwaDakwadunuse homestead in Nkandla, where he told party members and supporters that if their branches and regions were disbanded, they should not to obey the party’s orders.
The full bench of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg– judges Jody Kollapen, Sharise Weiner and Edwin Molahlehi – yesterday unanimously dismissed Magashule’s urgent application to reverse his suspension from the ANC with costs.
Magashule had sought an order declaring that the ANC’s step-aside rule or regime and/or rule 25.70 of the party’s constitution and the suspension letter issued by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte on May 5 (but dated May 3) unlawful, unconstitutional, invalid and null and/or void.
Magashule’s bid to have the purported suspension of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, which he wanted declared valid and effective until lawfully nullified, was also unsuccessful.
“In finding that there was no basis to confirm the purported suspension of Ramaphosa, we pointed out that the mandatory requirements to effect such a suspension in terms of rule 25.70 were absent. There could therefore be no basis to activate rule 25.70 as Magashule purported to do in support of his decision to suspend Ramaphosa,” the judges said.
The court found that Magashule failed to show that Ramaphosa’s purported suspension should be considered valid and/or effective until lawfully nullified.
Magashule was also unsuccessful in his attempt to get the ANC’s instruction to apologise for issuing the letter suspending the president withdrawn and have it declared unlawful, unenforceable and be set aside. IOL