Over the weekend, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota took to Twitter to air his concerns about Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
Magashule is the ANC Youth League’s preferred candidate to replace Gwede Mantashe as ANC secretary-general in December, but this has only filled Lekota with a sense of horror.
ANC national executive committee member Police Minister Fikile Mbalula also tweeted on Thursday that he thought Magashule would be a terrible SG, as he was an “infection” who would allegedly destroy the last of what was left of the “movement”.
Magashule, however, responded that he didn’t “hold any grudges” against Mbalula.
Lekota wrote over the weekend that he had fired Magashule (or at least tried to) for theft during the years when he had been Free State premier and Magashule was an MEC. He said he had also laid charges against Magashule with the police (or had, at the very least, apparently tried to), but Jacob Zuma had allegedly interfered, presumably when he was either the ANC’s deputy secretary-general or deputy president.
Responding to Magashule’s allegation in a Power FM interview that the ANC had been divided in the Free State during the Lekota years (1994 to 1996), the Cope leader wrote: “Ace Magashule is misleading you. When Ace was an MEC in my cabinet, I caught him stealing money from the provincial government. As powers were vested in my by the constitution, I dismissed him as MEC.
“However, the ANC deployed Mr [Jacob] Zuma to solve the issue. I [was] then asked to cover up the corruption by the deployee [Zuma].
“Therefore, the division Ace speaks about was between those who felt that it was right for Ace to be dismissed over those who wanted the corruption covered up.
“Ace Magashule must not mislead South Africans, he’s corrupt to the core.”
Lekota said he had refused to cover up the corruption. He told a user that “you wonder why Ace is a big defender of Zuma, he owes him”.
I refused to do it, Melanie. And you wonder why Ace is a big defender of Zuma, he owes him. https://t.co/3nKHx7oh9d
— Mosiuoa Lekota (@MTLekota) June 17, 2017
He later explained, when asked by a Twitter user why Magashule had not been arrested, that “Zuma blocked it all”.
Nevertheless, he said, “I am on record telling the nation how corrupt Ace Magashule is. I dismissed him as MEC of Economic Development in the Free State.
“ANC should’ve opened a case against Magashule, but they protected him, in the form of Mr Zuma intervening in the matter.
“People of the Free State know about [Magashule’s] corruption because I told them about the corruption. Google my speeches if you didn’t hear them.
“Over the years, I’ve spoken about him being corrupt. Ace Magashule is a thief!”
Lekota went on to provide links to news articles from the 1990s related to allegations that senior members of the Free State administration had spent millions on “unauthorised overseas trips, staff loans, a loan to the liquor board, pub lunches and compact discs”.
The allegations were reportedly contained in a report drafted by the director-general of the Free State government and handed to the attorney general’s office claiming the then MEC for economics and tourism, Magashule, had illegally established two section 21 companies and deposited government funds totalling nearly R6 million in their accounts.
“The companies were called the Free State Promotion Agency and the Free State Tourism Company.”
The M&G went on to state that a source allegedly told them: “The ANC wanted to handle [the corruption matter] internally, to keep it quiet.”
They reported that Lekota had been forced to reinstate Magashule.
Magashule has denied, over the years, that he has been involved in any dubious deals or theft. However, he memorably told the Mail & Guardian earlier this year how much he despises the laws governing how state officials are allowed to spend public money for service delivery and other causes.
He moaned that the Public Finance Management Act (FFMA) has “long, tedious processes before you can actually achieve anything”. He added that, in his view, South Africa was trying to act too much like a “Western” country, instead of a developing country.
“If I had my power, I would just do things tomorrow,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the PFMA was “stifling radical economic transformation”.
Magashule has been the province’s premier for the past decade and the ANC’s provincial chairperson since the 1990s.