South African ruling party official charged with corruption

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — 21 counts of bribery and theft, an important move in the country's pushing of President Cyril Ramaphosa against greffing have been accused of the African National Congress, a top official of the governing South African party.

ANC General Secretary Ace Magashule was threatened with bail in Bloemfontein.

Hundreds of backers assembled outside the courthouse welcomed him and showed that several of the party's governors did not join the fight against corruption.

As the authorities escalate inquiries into widespread greyhounds accusations in the region, Magashule was the most notorious figure for corruption allegations.

He was the prime minister of the province in free state from 2009 to 2018 and is accused of complicity in the plundering of the equivalent of $13,8 million.

He has supposedly benefitted from an audit deal, which he has awarded to his close associates to the amount of houses in the province which have asbestos roofs.

The deal was awarded for $15 million, but just $1.2 million has ever come to light.

State Attorneys claimed Magashule had turned the witness of the state against Magashule while he was the Free State's premier, Moroadi Cholota.

Actually, Cholota lives in the USA.

Magashule is now the eighth accused, including former high-ranking government officials and ANC-linked businessmen.

He told himself outside the court that, facing severe allegations, he would not resign his post as Secretary-General.

"I have been elected at a national conference by branches of the ANC, and I will step down only if they decide," said Magashule.

Many ANC members, sporting bright t-shirts and caps from parties and carrying banners with Magashule solidarity messages, have surrounded the court in Bloemfontein to display Friday their support.

Despite the party's demand, Magashule was supported only by citizens as persons, not under the Party's banner.

The protest in favor of Magashule demonstrates that much of the ANC do not support the anti-corruption campaign of Ramaphosa.

The former President Jacob Zuma, who is now facing accusations of wrongdoing in a separate situation, is at the head of the resistance to Ramaphosa.

In the case of Magashule, the defense will petition for move from this to the Higher Court in order for hearing to take place in February next year.