The African National Congress (ANC) says it is seeking legal counsel on the issue of members stepping aside from their duties when charged with corruption or wrongdoing.

ANC leaders have said at an online media conference that this is one of the reasons that party Secretary-General Ace Magashule will remain in his position. This is pending legal consultations and a final decision from the NEC on the matter.

The ANC had resolved that members facing criminal charges should step aside to protect the image of the organisation.

Magashule’s imminent arrest relates to his alleged involvement in the irregular awarding of the R255 million asbestos contract while he was the Premier in the Free State.

Hawks issue warrant of arrest for Ace Magashule:

He will hand himself over to the police on Friday morning before his appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

Magashule met with the ANC top six officials, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, Tuesday night.

ANC statement on Ace Magashule: 

ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte says the legal counsel is because some comrades were initially charged and vacated their positions before the charges were withdrawn.

“We need to take serious legal counsel based on the fact that some comrades were initially charged and then had to vacate their positions. Court actions were then withdrawn from them after they had already been asked to vacate senior positions in the movement. The next NEC will discuss the matter.”

ANC national officials briefing on latest developments:

Divisions within the ANC

Political analyst Professor Andre Duvenage says the imminent arrest of Magashule reveals divisions within the governing party on how to handle the situation.

Duvenage says Magashule’s imminent arrest comes at a critical time for the ANC as the country holds by-elections.

“It seems as if there’s a lot of internal pressure within the structures of the ANC and Ace Magashule for sure is the big test within the organisation. There’s division about how they should handle the allegations against Magashule. This is going to be very difficult for the ANC and for the president of the ANC and it will be interesting to see how all of this is going to impact on the support base of the ANC during this by-election.”