The police are issuing an arrest warrant for Ace Magashule, general secretary of the ruling party of the African National Congress.
South African police have issued an arrest warrant for a top official of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party on charges of corruption, a spokeswoman for the country’s elite Hawks police force said.
Ace Magashule, who told reporters he had done nothing wrong, has assured the party that he will appear in court on Friday, ANC deputy general secretary Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday.
Magashule is ANC General Secretary and responsible for the day-to-day running of the party that has ruled South Africa since the end of the white minority rule in 1994.
His arrest could have significant political ramifications if he is forced to leave or step down from his position of influence.
“He has not yet been arrested, but the warrant has been signed,” Lynda Steyn, spokeswoman for Hawks in the Free State province, told Reuters by phone.
Steyn confirmed a report on local news website Daily Maverick that the arrest warrant was issued on charges related to an assignment to inspect houses with asbestos roofs when Magashule was Prime Minister of the Free State.
When asked about the report, Magashule said he was not concerned and had done nothing wrong. “If it happens, it will, so I’m not worried at all,” he told reporters in footage broadcast on eNCA television.
“I did nothing wrong as a law-abiding citizen,” added Magashule, who was filmed during the election campaign in the Soweto municipality for the upcoming by-elections.
Will Magashule resign?
Meanwhile, senior ANC officials were not discussing whether Magashule should step down during a meeting on Wednesday, a senior party official said.
“We have not discussed this matter,” said ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile at a press conference.
The ANC previously said it learned of the warrant through media reports and will be closely monitoring developments.
“The Secretary General [Magashule] On more than one occasion, including through his legal team, he stated that he would cooperate in all processes carried out by law enforcement agencies, “the party said in a statement.
One of Magashule’s lawyers did not answer the phone or the messages.
Magashule comes from a faction within the ruling party that has spoken out against President Cyril Ramaphosa since he replaced Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018.
Ramaphosa was on a campaign to clean up the ANC’s image after a series of damaging scandals during Zuma’s nine-year tenure.
In August, Ramaphosa said ANC officials charged with corruption will be required to take leave of their positions and resign if convicted.
Another news report last month said Magashule’s arrest was imminent, but the Hawks released her at that point.