POLITICS
19/12/2017 12:44 SAST | Updated 19/12/2017 14:13 SAST

These Are New ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule's Smallanyana Skeletons

His links to the Gupta family is only one on a long list of allegations against him.

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Free State Premier Ace Magashule at a press conference in January, 2012.

The darkest cloud dangling over the ANC's new top six is Free State Premier Ace Magashule -- a man with such an enormous count of allegations against his name that certain individuals in the party wouldn't be able to read it.

And he is now the ANC's secretary-general, it's chief administration officer overseeing all units of the party.

This is Ace Magashule.

Born Elias Sekgobelo Magashule in 1959, the name "Ace" was earned through his talent on the soccer field in his younger days. Magashule became a founder member of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) in 1979 and participated in the founding of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s.

In 1994, he rose to chair the Free State ANC -- a position he holds until today, 23 years later. He became premier of the province in 2009.

Throughout his political tenure, controversy followed -- but nothing stuck. Here are only some of the allegations against him:

• Magashule and TAD Consultancy and Services

Earlier this year, amaBhungane reported that the Free State department of police, roads and transport had allegedly bypassed the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), which is responsible for managing large information and communication technology (ICT) tenders for government.

The Free State issued and awarded what it calls the "One Stop ICT Fusion Centre" tender without Sita approval. The contract was awarded in June 2016 to TAD Consultancy and Services, a company headed by Deena Pillay, who was Magashule's secretary while he was provincial sports minister in the mid-90s.

amaBhungane found Pillay and his family managed to secure dozens of state contracts in the Free State since Magashule became premier in 2009.

• Magashule and Ya Rona Investments

Mosiua Lekota, Magashule's predecessor as premier, fired him as a MEC when corruption charges were levelled against the now ANC secretary-general. In court papers, it was alleged that Magashule and other senior ANC members attempted to solicit a share of a development from Ya Rona Investments in exchange for approval of the sale of land belonging to the Mangaung municipality.

• The 2010 Soccer World Cup contract

Magashule was allegedly pulling the strings behind a multimillion-rand tender to provide soccer-related regalia during the World Cup in 2010. AmaBhungane reported the R9.5-million tender was to supply 30,000 t-shirts and 20 000 blankets.

The businessman at the centre of the deal this year claimed that his company was used as a front for an entity allegedly close to Magashule. The police inquiry into Magashule's alleged role in the matter was reportedly buried without proper investigation.

• The Gupta link

Leaked emails from the Gupta family's business empire revealed a June 2014 document that described a Gupta employee -- one of those involved in the Estina project -- as "adviser to Free State Premier", who at the time was Magashule.

The emails also reveal that Magashule's son, Tshepiso, started working for the Guptas as a consultant in November 2010, a year after Magashule became premier.

Tshepiso allegedly acted as an intermediary between the Guptas and the Free State government, using Gupta money to pay airtime bills, as one example, in exchange for using government officials to further the Gupta agenda in the province.

• Operation Hlasela

Started by Magashule, Operation Hlasela was a campaign to address service delivery challenges and ensure transparency at local government level in the Free State.

The project received criticism after oppositions parties alleged it was not a government programme, but instead a fund to sponsor Magashule's election campaign.