JOHANNESBURG 

Prosecutors in South Africa have issued an arrest warrant for the secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, over a multi-million corruption scandal.

The elite police unit Hawks confirmed late Monday a warrant had been issued for Ace Magashule, a key figure responsible for running the day-to day affairs of the ANC.

The news came when Magashule was busy garnering votes for a party candidate who is contesting in a by-election in Soweto, a township southwest of Johannesburg.

He told local broadcast eNCA he was not aware of the warrant. 

“I’m not worried at all, because I know I haven’t done anything wrong,” Magashule told reporters at the scene.

The warrant was issued in connection to Magashule’s alleged role in a $15 million contract meant to remove and replace asbestos from homes of the poor in the Free State province, where he served as premier.

The warrant will get effective Friday should he not surrender to law enforcers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who assumed the office in 2019, is a strong anti-corruption campaigner. In August he authorized the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to start probing allegations related to the misuse of COVID-19 funds.

“It is disgraceful that at this time of national crisis, there are companies and individuals who seek to criminally benefit from our efforts to protect people’s health and save lives,” Ramaphosa told legislators as he ordered the SIU to probe allegations of corruption in the procurement of goods and services for the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an audio statement, Pule Mabe, the ANC spokesman, said the party learnt through media reports about the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Magashule. 

“The Secretary General [Magashule] has advised the movement that he will be in consultation with his legal team to best respond the latest developments and to guide any response to the matter.” 

Mabe said the Magashule has on several occasion said he will cooperate with law enforcement agencies and the ANC will monitor the matter and give updates should the need arise.

Jessie Duarte, the ANC deputy secretary-general, and Treasurer General Paul Mashatile are expected to address a media briefing on Wednesday on the latest developments.

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