Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
2 minute read
18 May 2021
5:01 pm

Breaking out the big guns: ANC’s legal eagles against Ace’s pack

Bernadette Wicks

The stakes are high for both parties and some serious legal muscle has been called in.

Ace Magashule and Cyril Ramaphosa in happier times. Picture: Adrian de Kock

The ANC has roped in a crack team of some of South Africa’s best legal minds to fight Ace Magashule’s challenge to his recent suspension as the party’s secretary-general.

Hot on the heels of his suspension – which came amid criminal allegations of fraud and corruption related to the R255 million Free State asbestos roofing scandal – Magashule late last week turned to the South Gauteng High Court with a semi-urgent application to overturn his ousting, together with the party’s step aside rule under which it was effected.

He also wants his attempted suspension of Cyril Ramaphosa as the president of the ANC, which the party has since flatly rejected, declared “valid and effective until lawfully nullified”. And he wants the order he was given to apologise for suspending Ramaphosa, declared unlawful and unenforceable.

Magashule has brought out the big guns and has Eric Mabuza – who has previously acted for former president Jacob Zuma and acted for the former Chief Operations Officer in the Office of the Public Protector, Basani Baloyi – as well as advocate Dali Mpofu SC in his corner.

But now the ANC has slapped back, on Monday announcing it would be opposing Magashule’s court bid and that it too was calling on the big dogs.

The party has enlisted the services of high-profile law firm Ledwaba Mazwai Inc to fight its case.

The firm has a number of bigwig clients under its belt and represented the executors of former president Nelson Mandela’s estate during the legal tug of war over his Eastern Cape homestead. It also assisted former public protector Lawrence Mushwana in his case against Mail & Guardian over his 2005 report into the Oilgate scandal.

The ANC on Monday also announced it would have no less than four advocates representing it in court – among them Wim Trengrove SC.

Trengrove is widely accepted as one of the country’s top advocates and has acted in a raft of high-profile cases, including Mandela’s divorce from  Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, in which he represented the former.

More recently, he also represented Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her case against Liberty Fighters Network over the lockdown regulations, as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign in the EFF’s bid to unseal donor records.

In addition to Trengrove, the party has also hired Ngwako Maenetje SC, Fana Nalane SC and Buhle Lekokotla.

The case is expected to be heard early next month.