South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has set in motion the process of suspending officials who are facing criminal charges and have ignored a directive to step down, according to a senior ruling party official.

Jessie Duarte, the ANC’s deputy secretary-general, is drafting letters to those whose membership is being revoked and they could be served on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Fikile Mbalula, the party’s head of elections and a member of its decision-making National Executive Committee.

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Those in the firing line include Ace Magashule, the ANC’s secretary-general, and Bongani Bongo, a former state security minister, both of whom are being prosecuted for graft yet deny wrongdoing.

Magashule has repeatedly challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa’s authority and been linked to an ANC faction aligned to former President Jacob Zuma, who the party forced to step down in 2018 after he became embroiled in a succession of scandals. Magashule’s exit could add impetus to Ramaphosa’s efforts to tackle the corruption that became endemic during Zuma’s rule and bolster the odds of him securing a second term as ANC leader next year.

The ANC is determined to prove to its members and the electorate that it is serious about cleaning up its image by dealing with those accused of graft, Mbalula, who is also South Africa’s transport minister, said in an interview on Tuesday.

“The indecisiveness of the ANC in the fight against corruption, perception-wise, has put the ANC in a very precarious and defensive mode,” he said. “And you cannot only defend yourself in rhetoric, you have got to defend yourself by action.”

© 2021 Bloomberg



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