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South Africa’s ANC party suspends graft-accused top official

South Africa’s ruling ANC party has suspended its secretary-general, Ace Magashule, pending the outcome of his corruption trial due later this year, according to a letter leaked to the media Wednesday

Magashule, 61, was given a 30-day ultimatum on March 30 to step aside after being charged with embezzling public funds at a time when he was premier of the Free State province.

But he ignored the deadline and did not voluntarily resign.

A meeting of the party leadership on Monday “reaffirmed” the decision to force any member facing criminal charges to resign or face suspension.

“You are hereby temporarily suspended with effect from 3 May 2021 until the final outcome of your court proceedings,” said a the letter penned by his deputy, Jessie Duarte.

The letter, dated Monday, said his temporary suspension would be “in the best interest of the organisation”.

The African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela has been at pains to cleanse an image marred by years of graft.

During the period of paid suspension, Magashule cannot represent ANC anywhere or make public pronouncements about the party.

Charges against Magashule relate to public funds that were set aside to vet government-built housing with asbestos roofs in 2014.

The hazardous roofs were never removed, and investigators believe that the equivalent of over $12 million (10 million euros) was pocketed.

Magashule was briefly arrested in November and granted bail on graft charges. He is next expected to appear before a high court in August.