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South Africa: Three scenarios for Ramaphosa’s corruption ultimatum

By Anna Maree
Posted on Thursday, 22 April 2021 16:34

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address in parliament in Cape Town
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2021. Esa Alexander/Pool via REUTERS

By May Day, South Africans will know whether President Cyril Ramaphosa really is in charge or not.

The governing African National Congress, which he leads, has given corruption-charged leaders — including Ace Magashule — until the end of April to step down from their positions in the party or government. Here are three scenarios on what might happen next.

This list includes the party’s most powerful full-time official, secretary general Ace Magashule, who has been contradicting the president at almost every turn.

The question now is whether Ramaphosa has the power to force him to go.

Why the ultimatum?

With just over a week left to the deadline, Magashule is still staying put. He has had an uneasy relationship with Ramaphosa, which can be traced back to when a very divided ANC elected both of them to the party’s top six leadership committee four years ago.

Ramaphosa went on to unseat Jacob Zuma as the country’s president, two months after becoming ANC president, in February 2018.

Magashule will only step down if everyone in the party facing serious criminal charges or allegations does the same,” some of his supporters have said.

The fraud and corruption charges brought against Magashule in November 2020 were as a result of Ramaphosa’s subsequent efforts to clean up large-scale corruption — or the ‘state capture’ under Zuma’s watch — by strengthening law enforcement and prosecution authorities.

The charges against Magashule relate to a large tender awarded by the Free State provincial government in 2014 when he was still premier.

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