24/01/2018 13:21 SAST | Updated 24/01/2018 14:38 SAST

This Is How Ace Magashule Captured The Free State

"We have brought numerous allegations against him all the way back to 1996, but nothing has happened.”

Ace Magashule.
Ace Magashule.

ANC secretary-general and Free State premier Ace Magashule has allegedly built and has been running an extensive system of patronage networks in that province, which allows him control over government departments and municipalities.

This is according to the DA leader in Free State, Roy Jankielsohn, who in an interview with HuffPost described a more than 20-year struggle to hold Magashule to account for a long list of scandals throughout his tenure.

Magashule is the longest-serving ANC chairperson in the country -- his tenure in the province extends back to 1994. He was installed in the position of premier after President Jacob Zuma came to power in 2009.

"Magashule has built up a strong power base in Free State and dominates the ANC as a party in the province. Because the ANC is in charge of cadre deployment, most senior positions have been occupied by Magashule's allies," Jankielsohn said.

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

"Because [Magashule] runs the ANC, he has been able to manipulate cadre deployment in favour of his faction in provincial government departments and municipalities...This has resulted in a very strong patronage network in the province, and he has been able to use these officials to forward his agenda -- and delegate to and undermine premiers before him."

Jankielsohn said when Zuma took over in 2009, Magashule was able to consolidate his political power and his hold over the executive.

"In 2014, Magashule brought in almost a whole new legislature, and they took instruction from him. He wiped out the institutional memory in the legislature," he said.

Describing the opposition's ongoing fight with Magashule, Jankielsohn said it has been "tough".

"His name won't be on anything. He is very sly and difficult to catch out, yet it is an open secret in Free State that the province is being run as a mafia state... Whenever we oppose him in the legislature, we get insulted and called names," Jankielsohn said.

READ: Estina Order A Painful Reminder Of Magashule's Past.

"Nothing seems to stick. I know that he [allegedly] uses other people's phones to make calls. He doesn't put his name on anything. We have brought numerous allegations against him all the way back to 1996, but nothing has happened."

*Numerous attempts to contact Magashule's spokesperson, Tiisetso Makhele, for a response were unsuccessful. This story will be updated when Makhele provides comment.

Magashule's decades of scandal:

1996: Former Free State premier Mosiuoa Lekota fired Magashule as the MEC for economics and tourism after R6-million of public money was used for unauthorised overseas trips, staff loans, a loan to the liquor board, pub lunches and compact discs.

Mail and Guardian at the time reported that Magashule allegedly established two companies illegally, Free State Promotion Agency and Free State Tourism Company, and deposited R5,784,000 into their accounts.

2009: Court papers 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.

2009:Mail and Guardian reported that Magashule allegedly solicited a R3-million bribe from Zuma's friend Vivian Reddy. This came after the Free State Gambling and Racing Board blocked a deal for the sale of Gold Reef Resorts shares – to the value of R1-billion, belonging to Bongani Biyela and partners – to Tsogo Sun.

2009: Launched in 2009, Operation Hlasela was a campaign to address service-delivery challenges and ensure transparency at local government level in Free State.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela found that Magashule had conflated state and party interests, and that the project's marketing and advertising campaign unduly benefitted the ANC in a way that was inconsistent with the Constitution and the Electoral Act – and that it prejudiced other political parties.

2010: Magashule began a process of centralising departmental media buying in the office of the premier through allegedly illegal transversal contracts appointing his office as the implementing agent. The premier's office contracted Letlaka Media as a preferred supplier, the owner of whom was alleged to be Magashule's close political ally.

National Treasury commissioned a report that revealed various transgressions and deviations from the legislative framework.

2010: It is alleged that Magashule was behind a multimillion-rand tender to provide soccer-related regalia during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The R9.5-million tender was to supply 30,000 T-shirts and 20,000 blankets, amaBhungane reported. Last year, the businessman involved in the deal allegedly claimed that his company was used as a front for an entity close to Magashule.

An inquiry by police into the premier's role in the scandal was reportedly buried due to poor investigation.

2011:The Star reported in 2011 that Magashule was a director of a company called Leading Prospect Trading, which received a R15-million interest-free loan from Canyon Springs Investments, who allegedly obtained the money from textile workers' pension funds. The loan agreement was signed in May 2007, and the funds were said to have been transferred prior to the signing of the contract.

After the transfer, Magashule resigned as director and the company collapsed. No reason for the loan was given and the loan was never repaid.

2011:Mail and Guardian reported that Magashule allegedly approved a contract with SAMBAL Investments for the lease of offices to house the provincial department of sport, arts, culture and recreation in the Bloemfontein CBD.

Magashule reportedly served as a director at the company before the deal, and the prices for the lease were said to be inflated.

2013: The DA asked the auditor-general to investigate Magashule's alleged abuse of R140-million for a Free State government website.

This followed a report by the Sowetan that Magashule allegedly awarded a contract to Letlaka Communications to build the most expensive website in the history of South Africa. The matter is with the public protector.

2017:AmaBhungane reported that Free State issued and awarded a three-year contract called the "One-Stop ICT Fusion Centre" tender without Sita approval. The company that won the tender was TAD Consultancy and Services – a company headed by Deena Pillay, who was Magashule's secretary when he was the sports MEC in the mid-90s.

2017: Leaked emails from the Gupta business empire showed that a lavish family wedding at Sun City was largely paid for using laundered public funds diverted from Free State's Estina dairy project, which Magashule signed off on.

The emails also showed that Magashule's son, Tshepiso, began working for the Guptas in 2010.