JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The secretary general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) who has been suspended by the party over corruption charges told the state broadcaster on Friday “I am not going anywhere” and said he was being treated unfairly.
The ANC suspended Ace Magashule this week in line with tougher rules for members charged with corruption and other serious crimes, who were told to “step aside” or vacate their positions within 30 days or face suspension.
Magashule is one of the ANC‘s top six officials and runs day-to-day affairs in the party that has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid.
He is a key rival of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is trying to stamp his authority on his divided party before a leadership contest next year.
Magashule has been charged with corruption over a contract to audit homes with asbestos roofs when he was premier of the Free State province. He has denied wrongdoing.
He has refused to leave his post, despite an instruction from the ANC‘s national executive at the end of March.
“The ANC is acting in an unfair manner … I have not committed any crime,” Magashule told state broadcaster SABC in an interview, adding: “I am not going anywhere.”
The “step aside” rule will test Ramaphosa’s control over the ANC and his commitment to tackle widespread corruption. It is on the agenda of a three-day virtual meeting of the ANC‘s national executive that starts on Saturday.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Edmund Blair)