South Africa’s ruling party ordered members who’ve been charged with crimes to step down within a month or face suspension.
The announcement signals that African National Congress Secretary-General Ace Magashule, a key opponent of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic reforms, will have to leave his post next month. Magashule has been charged with money laundering, fraud and corruption.
“All members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which they should be suspended,” Ramaphosa said in an online briefing on Monday after a four-day meeting of the party’s top leaders.
Suspending Magashule and others facing criminal charges could bring to and end months of internal wrangling that’s exposed deep divisions within the ANC.
Magashule has repeatedly undermined Ramaphosa’s authority and been linked to a faction with the ANC that remains loyal to former President Jacob Zuma, whom the party forced to step down in 2018 after he became embroiled in a succession of scandals. Ramaphosa has identified the fight against corruption within the ANC and the government as a top priority.
Ramaphosa is asserting control of the party as he seeks to implement reforms needed to revive an economy that shrank the most in a century last year. He also needs to consolidate his support if he is to secure a second term as ANC president — and the country — when the party holds its national elective congress next year.
Magashule is due to appear in court later this year over the charges linked to a contract issued while he was premier of the central Free State province. He has denied wrongdoing.