The ANC’s lawyers pull no punches in slamming suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule in the High Court in Johannesburg.
The ANC’s lawyers came out guns blazing for Ace Magashule in the High Court in Johannesburg yesterday.
They described the challenge the party’s suspended secretary-general has mounted to his recent suspension as “extraordinary” and his efforts to oust party president Cyril Ramaphosa as both “dishonest and vindictive”.
Magashule’s urgent bid to overturn his suspension played out before a full bench – comprising Judges Jody Kollapen, Edwin Molahleli and Sharise Weiner.
Proceedings kicked off with arguments from advocate Dali Mpofu, for Magashule, on Thursday.
Yesterday, advocate Wim Trengrove, for the ANC, took the pulpit. In addition to wanting the court to reinstate him, Magashule wants them to throw out the step-aside rule under which he was recently suspended.
He also wants his own purported suspension of Ramaphosa – which he tried to effect under the same rule – upheld.
Trengrove yesterday argued Magashule was trying to have his cake and eat it and that the two were “incompatible”. And this, he said, was just one of a number of “extraordinary contradictions” marking Magashule’s case.
On Magashule’s argument that deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, who issued his suspension letter, had not had the power to do so, Trengrove labelled this “extraordinary”.
“The suggestion that the only person in the ANC who had the power to suspend Mr Magashule was Mr Magashule himself – one merely needs to articulate that suggestion to realise how absurd it must be,” he said.
In April, Magashule was suspended over the criminal charges he is facing in connection with the R255 million Free State asbestos removal saga.
This was in accordance with the ANC’s step-aside rule, which requires members facing criminal charges to step down from public office or face suspension.
That same week, Magashule also issued Ramaphosa with a suspension letter, citing the controversies around his CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency. The president has never been arrested, or charged, over this.
Despite his insistence that he was just doing his job, Trengrove yesterday also labelled Magashule’s attempted suspension of Ramaphosa “an obviously dishonest and vindictive attempt to retaliate against the president for his own suspension”.
He argued the step-aside rule only applied to those facing criminal charges but that Magashule was doing “his best to create a semblance of compliance with that requirement” by referencing the ongoing litigation between Ramaphosa and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over her report into the CR17 campaign.
“It’s a spurious attempt. It is a dishonest attempt,” he said.
In reply, Mpofu yesterday insisted Magashule had not only been relying on the rule to “suspend” Ramaphosa, but on the original resolution taken at the 54th national conference in 2017 and on a mandate he had received from the party.
Political analyst Dr Ralph Mathkega said the chief difference was that Magashule’s suspension had been preceded by “a trail of consultation”.
Judgment was yesterday reserved.
By Bernadette Wicks - Senior court reporter - email@example.com
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