Johannesburg – A ferocious tug-of-war is under way in the ANC, just days before the elections.
Party secretary-general Ace Magashule claims organs of State are being used in a titanic battle for the soul of the party.
On Sunday, Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela confirmed that Hawks generals had tipped him off that his office would be raided this week as part of an “unspecified” investigation against him.
The claim lifted the lid on a battle that is expected to intensify immediately after the elections, when President Cyril Ramaphosa assembles his new Cabinet.
Bapela believed moves were afoot to target certain senior leaders in order to exclude them from a new, trimmed executive, whose composition is at the heart of the raging tussle.
It was expected to trigger a massive fallout and a rebellion against Ramaphosa in the run-up to the party’s national general council next year.
“The planned raid on my office is aimed at tarnishing my image and casting suspicion.
“The main objective of this dirty exercise is to force the president not to consider some of us in his next Cabinet because we would be deemed to be under investigation and not suitable for ministerial positions,” Bapela said.
The ANC national executive committee (NEC) member said although he was disturbed by these developments, he wasn’t worried.
“I sleep very well at night because I know I haven’t done anything wrong.”
The deputy minister claimed he was also told there were plans to arrest Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and raid the ANC headquarters, Luthuli House.
Magashule said he, too, was aware of the plan to raid Luthuli House. “They are trying to intimidate us but we are not scared,” he said.
The secretary-general reiterated that they suspected that some organs of the State were being used to investigate them.
“They have illegally bugged our phones, and some of our comrades had their phones hacked.”
Magashule claimed he was aware that EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu had also been targeted.
But Malema and Shivambu said they knew nothing about any investigation. “But anything is possible,” Malema said.
The Star’s sister paper, The Sunday Independent, reported yesterday that police were probing at least 15 people, including Magashule and Mkhwebane, for alleged involvement in various crimes including murder, money laundering and corruption.
This included former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser, Bapela and former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni.
Magashule was being accused of giving away a state-owned painting by South African landscape master Jacobus Pierneef worth an estimated R8million to one of his bodyguards while he was the Free State premier.
On Tuesday, he invited police to his Luthuli House office to give them a statement after hearing he was under investigation.
According to five independent sources, including two intelligence sources, a senior government official and a lawyer for one of the accused, those under investigation were facing various possible charges.