MR President, I am on cloud nine. Not so much because this column won the coveted regional leg of the 2020 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards in the Opinion Category this week. But I am in seventh heaven because as you read this, the former Free State Premier and current ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been granted bail of R200 000 after his warrant of arrest was issued and executed this week. He is arraigned before our courts to answer to the R255-million asbestos scandal that has left one person dead, scores filthy rich and some famous if not notorious. Ace's bosom buddies, including the corruption-accused, inconspicuous 'businessman' with a lot of chutzpah but less morals (allegedly), Edwin Sodi, were arrested last month, charged and are out on bail.
As readers may recall, earlier this year I pleaded with our media-shy National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head, Advocate Shamila Batohi, to do right by the slain Igo Mpambani. Mpambani was key in the asbestos mess until he was shot dead in his Bentley in Sandton. He was only 37 years old. I asked Advocate Shamila: let's do right by Mpambani. #Justice for Mpambani, Now!
Moreover, I had promised you, Mr President, and readers of this column that I had suspended my bar-hopping, beer-guzzling and yellow bone hunting until Ace is brought to book. I guess I have to keep my word tonight and resume the drill, I am going one step higher though, I am popping the champagne, baby!
For years Ace has made a series of ex-cathedra statements, posturing as a paragon of virtue. It turns out that over time he has strung together a tissue of lies about his tenure as a Free State premier.
Judging by his public posture, one gets a sense that he believes his own lies. Perhaps he suffers from the pseudologia fantastica syndrome.
Yet, if the prosecutors are to be believed Ace was allegedly running a criminal enterprise, having repurposed the Free State government finances for his own use and that of cronies. As we have learned from the media reports over time, Ace is armed to the teeth, mostly with lies and political conjecture.
Speaking immediately after the Hawks and the NPA confirmed his warrant of arrest, he leaned heavily on the worn-out despot uBaba’s script claiming his innocence. He said he wasn't worried, yet he went on screaming fire and brimstone by invoking the ANC's pre-freedom time slogan, 'the Struggle continues.' Instead of striking fear to the authorities and long-suffering taxpayers, Ace's statement sounded like a drowning man clutching at a straw. Yes, the slogan was out of context but the statement itself not out of character. Ace is the original Gangster if, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, author of the Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture can be believed.
Although it is early days, it seems the NPA finally agrees that the hut of a bold person (Ace) leaks, as in 'indlu yegagu iyanetha', as they say in Zululand.
It's high time that all the scoundrels and hoodlums inside and outside of government have their proverbial day in court. As the Russians are wont to say no apple tree is immune from worms.
The immunity of the 'lost decade' must come to an end if we are to secure a future for our nascent democracy. Mr President, be warned that Ace will do everything in his power to attempt to bring the house down with him. He will defend himself with the ferocity of a cornered bull. He cares little for the vaunted values of the glorious movement, the ANC, unless he can bend them to do his bidding.
Therefore, his arrest should be seen in a context of arresting the slide towards mobocracy and returning the ANC and the government finances it runs back to the people. People like Ace and his sidekick Carl Niehaus have no respect for the values of our democracy and its government financial management etiquettes or traditions of servant leadership exemplified by OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela amongst others. Ace is nothing but 'a gangster', an autocrat running the most influential liberation movement in Africa. Thus, Mr President, his arrest will make or break your presidency.
The moniker of you being nothing but talk and no trousers that I made earlier this year, is withdrawn with immediate effect. Through deeds, not words, you have shown us the way. The criminal justice system is beginning to eat its own - the aristocrats of the revolution and their minnows. I can proudly say Cometh the Hour Cometh the Man, President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa. Till next week my man. "Send me."
This Letter to Mahlamba Ndlopfu is written by Bhekisisa Mncube a former senior Witness political journalist, the 2020 winner of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year award, as well as author of The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy.
This opinion piece was first published in the Witness (News24).