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South Africa's Ace Magashule: Arrest warrant issued for ANC official

An arrest warrant has been issued for one of the most high-ranking officials of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) for alleged corruption, police say.

The case against Ace Magashule is related to the awarding of a $16m (£12m) government contract in 2014.

He told local media that he was not worried as he had done nothing wrong.

He is the most senior ANC official who risks prosecution since President Cyril Ramaphosa took office in 2018.

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Mr Ramaphosa is the leader of the ANC, but he and Mr Magashule, who is the party's secretary-general, come from rival factions.

The president promised to tackle corruption and promote good governance when he took office, describing his predecessor Jacob Zuma's time in office as "nine wasted years".

Mr Magushule is widely seen as a political kingmaker in the ANC and is a staunch ally of Mr Zuma, who has been charged with corruption over an arms deal, reports the BBC's Pumza Fihlani from the main city Johannesburg.

Mr Zuma denies the charges.

South African President and president of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa visits local residents during a door to door campaign visit in Clermont township, on March 31, 2019

image captionPresident Ramaphosa led the ANC to victory in the 2019 general election

The ANC said it had learned of the arrest warrant against Mr Magashule through the media, and he would be consulting his lawyers.

A spokeswoman for the elite Hawks police unit told the Reuters news agency that Mr Magashule was expected to appear in court on Friday.

"He hasn't been arrested as yet but the warrant has been signed," Lynda Steyn was quoted as saying.

Asbestos removal contract at heart of allegations

The alleged corruption took place when Mr Magashule was the head of the provincial government in the Free State in 2014.

South Africa News has nine provincial governments, with huge budgets under their control.

The $16m contract was issued to private firms for the removal of asbestos from low-cost homes, but it is alleged that there were kickbacks and suspicious payments, our reporter says.

In his reaction to the arrest warrant, Mr Magashule told privately owned local broadcaster eNCA: "I'm not worried at all because I know I haven't done anything wrong as a law abiding citizen of South Africa."

Mr Magashule catapulted on to the national political stage when he was elected ANC secretary-general in 2017 after narrowly defeating a candidate allied with Mr Ramaphosa.

He is in charge of the day-to-day running of the party, which has been in government since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

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