Prosecutors in South Africa have issued an arrest warrant for the secretary general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party over a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.
The Hawks elite police unit confirmed on Tuesday that an order had been issued for Ace Magashule, a key figure responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of the white minority rule in 1994, over charges. of corruption related to a contract to inspect houses with asbestos roofs awarded when he was prime minister of the Free State province.
According to Anadolu Agency (AA), the news came when Magashule was busy getting votes for a party candidate running in a by-election in Soweto, a parish southwest of Johannesburg.
“He has not been arrested yet, but the warrant has been signed,” Hawks Free State spokeswoman Lynda Steyn told Reuters by telephone.
ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte said Magashule, who told reporters he had done nothing wrong, assured the party that he would appear in court on Friday.
“I’m not worried at all because I know I did nothing wrong,” Magashule told local broadcaster eNCA.
The warrant was issued in connection with Magashule’s alleged role in a $ 15 million contract to remove and replace asbestos from poor homes in the Free State province.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office in 2018, is a strong campaign against corruption. In August, he approved the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to begin investigating allegations related to the misuse of COVID-19 drugs.
“It is a shame that in this time of national crisis, there are companies and individuals who are striving to take advantage of our efforts to protect human health and save lives,” Ramaphosa told lawmakers as he ordered SIU to investigate allegations of procurement corruption. . goods and services for the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, leading members of the ANC did not discuss whether Magashule should leave his member during a meeting held on Wednesday, a top party official said on Wednesday.
“SG (Secretary-General) informed us of the letters he has received from law enforcement agencies and the fact that he will cooperate and he will go to court on Friday,” ANC Treasury Secretary-General Paul Mashatile said at a news conference on Tuesday. meeting with senior officials.
He urged ANC members to remain calm and said the ANC would address the “big problem” of corruption in society.
Asked by reporters whether officials had discussed Magashule leaving his party position, Mashatile added: “No, we did not discuss it.”
In an audio statement, ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said the party found out in the media about the issuance of an arrest warrant for Magashule.
“The Secretary-General (Magashule) has recommended to the movement that he consult with his legal team to best respond to the latest developments and to steer all responses to the matter,” Mabe said.
Mabe said Magashule has said on several occasions that he will cooperate with law enforcement agencies and the ANC will monitor the case and provide updates if the need arises.