Corruption, fraud, alternatively theft and more seriously, money laundering are among the 21 charges that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are pursuing against ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. The various charges relate to his alleged involvement in the R255 million asbestos eradication project in the Free State.
Having last month been delivered a dose of fake news concerning the arrest, citizens were sceptical at first. But that quickly melted away as every media outlet in the country began to splash the news across their digital and print platforms. It was the headline that most South Africans had been waiting for and, finally, that most rare and beautiful of things: an arrest warrant for a (very) high-ranking ANC official. But champaign didn’t cascade from the heavens, nor did any velvet ropes part, finally ushering in that ‘New Dawn’ we’ve been hearing so much about. For this, my friends, is just the beginning.
On Friday, outside the Bloemfontein, Ace Magashule addressed a crowd of people he had earlier in the week asked not to come. “I will never leave the ANC. You won’t remove me, you’ll find me there. You can’t follow a fool. Because if a fool says ‘Ace Magashule’ is corrupt. I will show you corruption, at the right time”. When not playing either the victim or race card, another popular strategy is that of threatening mutual destruction, the premise being: We’re all corrupt, and we all have evidence on each other. If you spill the beans on me… You get the picture.
Former president Jacob Zuma has been employing these tactics for years. And, he continues to do so, but with dwindling success. Ace has read the playbook, and likes what he sees, but there are some flaws. Jacob Zuma had the backing of a very powerful ANC in KZN. The ANC in Bloemfontein court does not carry nearly as much weight. Jacob Zuma was (this author admits through gritted teeth) a likeable and charismatic character. Ace is neither of those things. Also, and perhaps most importantly, Jacob Zuma’s dastardly tactics at avoiding prosecution and any form of accountability were ingenious and carefully crafted. As a citizenry, we were encountering them for the first time. This time around, not so much. We’re battle-scarred and fatigued now.