Ace Magashule

Elias Sekgobelo "Ace" Magashule (born 3 November 1959 at Tumahole, Parys)[1] is a South African politician and anti-apartheid activist who is the current Secretary General of the African National Congress. He served as the Premier of the Free State, one of South Africa's nine provinces, from 2009 until 2018.

Ace Magashule
Ace Magashule, Free State Premier.jpg
5th Premier of the Free State
In office
6 May 2009 – 27 March 2018
Preceded byBeatrice Marshoff
Succeeded bySisi Ntombela
Secretary General of the African National Congress
Assumed office
18 December 2017
DeputyJessie Duarte
Preceded byGwede Mantashe
Personal details
Elias Sekgobelo Magashule

(1959-11-03) 3 November 1959 (age 60)
Tumahole, Parys, Orange Free State, Union of South Africa
NationalitySouth African
Political partyAfrican National Congress
ChildrenTshepiso Magashule
Alma materUniversity of Fort Hare
  • Politician
  • Anti-apartheid activist

Magashule has been the subject of many journalistic investigations alleging his involvement in corrupt activities.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Magashule attended Tumahole Primary School (now Lembede Primary) in Parys[3] and Phehellang Secondary School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Hare University[4]

After graduating, he taught at Moqhaka High School in Sebokeng, and later at Phehellang High School in Tumahole.[5]

Anti-apartheid activismEdit

From a young age, Ace Magashule showed a deep concern for the plight of his people, and for the suffering that they endured under the repressive and racist apartheid regime. While at the University of Fort Hare, in 1982, he was arrested following a protest against a visit by Ciskei Prime Minister Lennox Sebe, and convicted of public violence.[6] His official ANC biography claims that he was charged with high treason.[7]

Magashule was a member of Tumahole Youth Congress in the 1980s and played a role in United Democratic Front in Northern Free State in the 1980s and participated in organising rent boycotts in Tumahole. He was detained for his role in UDF activities in 1985.[8] He went to exile in 1989 and returned in 1991 after unbanning of ANC/SACP and PAC.[9]

Political careerEdit

  • Elected Chairperson of ANC’s Northern Free State Region in 1991.
  • Elected Deputy-Chairperson of ANC in the Free State in 1994.
  • Served as MEC of Economic Affairs between 1994 and 1996[10]
  • Served as MEC of Transport.
  • Deployed to National Assembly, August 1997.
  • Provincial Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State, 1998.[11]
  • Re-elected as Chairperson of ANC PEC in Free State in 2002.
  • Served as MEC of Agriculture between 2004 and 2005[12]
  • Re-elected as Chairperson of ANC PEC in Free State in 2005.
  • Elected to ANC National Executive Committee during the 52nd ANC National Conference in 2007 at Polokwane.
  • Re-elected as Chairperson of ANC PEC in Free State in 2008[13]
  • Served as MEC of Sports, Arts and Recreation between 2007 and 2008.
  • Served as MEC of Safety and Security in 2008.

Magashule was appointed as Premier of the Free State on 6 May 2009,[14][15] replacing Beatrice Marshoff. As Premier, he initiated Operation Hlasela, a campaign to fight poverty in the Free State, and established a bursary fund for tertiary students in the Premier's office.[16]

He was elected Secretary General of the African National Congress in December 2017 during the party's elective conference.

Corruption allegationsEdit

Magashule has been the subject of many journalistic investigations alleging his corrupt activities.[2] In 2011 Magashule and Mohloua Seoe were linked to a government property deal that was awarded to a company of which both were once co-directors.[9]

In November 2017 the winner of a tender from the provincial government Magashule headed alleged that Magashule had personally encouraged him to act as a front for the contract.[17]

In January 2018, the Hawks unit of South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation raided Magashule's offices in connection with the Vrede Dairy Project, calling it a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies" from the Free State Department of Agriculture.[18][19]


One of his sons, Tshepiso "Gift" Magashule, was employed as a consultant by the Gupta family since November 2010, shortly after Duduzane Zuma was brought under their influence. In 2011 Gift joined the Gupta brothers on a three-week holiday to New York and Venice, and he was later appointed as a director in a Gupta company, earning R90,000 a month. Ace Magashule alleged that Gift's link to the Guptas was no secret. In 2015 the Guptas treated Gift and his brother Thato to an eight-day stay in the Oberoi Hotel, Dubai.[20]

In 2015 a busy Shell fuel station in Phuthaditjhaba, owned by the Free State Development Corporation (FDC), was acquired by Ace's 27-year old daughter Thoko Alice Malembe. As the deal involved an R11.5 million upfront rental fee from Shell, and a purchase price of R2.9 million, reportedly below its market value, it resulted in a windfall of some R8.9 million for Malembe's MMAT trust. Magashule denied any involvement, despite a security video of 18 December 2014 which confirmed his exploratory visit to the fuel station, in the company of two FDC board members, and apparently, Malembe.[9] The fuel station's 60 employees had to be entrenched by their former employer, when it lost its case against the FDC.[21] After she was reunited with her father in 2011, Malembe registered Botlokwa Holdings in 2013,[22] which managed to secure a series of government tenders and property deals from the Free State provincial government. Malembe's trust or company also acquired a Botshabelo fuel station from the FDC for R2.88 million (or R4 million according to the FDC), despite an offer of R5.5 million from another investor.[9]


Ace Magashule is a long-time friend of Hantsi Matseke, chairperson of the FDC. Matseke owns Maono Construction which has been awarded contracts worth R515 million by government departments and municipalities in the Free State. Magashule has denied influencing any of these. Maono Construction has however subcontracted work to Malembe's Botlokwa Holdings.[9]


In 2019, Ace Magashule urged voters not to "waste your vote on the white man" by supporting the opposition Democratic Alliance. His remarks were condemned as racist by ANC veterans.[23][24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Profile of the Free State Premier". Free State Government. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (2019). Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture. Penguin Random House South Africa. ISBN 978-1-77609-375-5.
  3. ^ "Free State News". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  4. ^ edwin. "Ace Magashule elected ANC secretary general | Afro Voice". Afro Voice. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  5. ^ "Ace Magashule". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  6. ^ Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (2019). Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture. Penguin Random House.
  7. ^ "Elias Sekgobelo Magashule | African National Congress". African National Congress. Retrieved 2020-08-24.
  8. ^ Tshabalala, Bongani. "Magashule revels in Sparkling Cleaning Campaign". Free State News. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  9. ^ a b c d e Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (2018-01-31). "Magashule and daughter in money-for-jam property scandal". News24. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  10. ^ " – Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  11. ^ ovatheme_. "Hon Ace Magashule | Free State Investors Global Investors Trade Bridge|free state premier ace magashule". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  12. ^ "Magashule premier in waiting | IOL News". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  13. ^ edwin. "Ace Magashule elected ANC secretary general | Afro Voice". Afro Voice. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  14. ^ "Free State welcomes 'Dr Ace' after premier awarded an honorary doctorate". News24. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  15. ^ "Magashule elected as Free State premier". IOL News. SAPA. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Free State student exchange programme bridges skills gap". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  17. ^ "amaBhungane – Dodgy World Cup deal comes back to bite Free State premier Ace Magashule". Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  18. ^ "NPA freezes R220m, land linked to Gupta farm". 20 January 2018.
  19. ^ Bateman, Barry (25 January 2018). "Hawks Raid FS Premier's Office Over Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Farm".
  20. ^ Cameron, Jackie (12 June 2017). "Groomed by Guptas: How Free State Premier Ace Magashule, son Gift were caught and captured". amaBhungane. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  21. ^ Bateman, Barry (February 2018). "Magashule helped daughter secure property deals worth millions – Report". Eyewitness News. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  22. ^ Choane, Pulane (22 February 2018). "'Ace's daughter got tenders on merit'". Bloemfontein Courant. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  23. ^ Grobler, Riaan (15 April 2019). "ANC veterans 'outraged' by Ace Magashule's 'umlungu' comments". News24. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  24. ^ Head, Tom (15 April 2019). "ANC veterans blast "racist" Ace Magashule for campaign trail comments". The South African. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Beatrice Marshoff
Premier of the Free State
6 May 2009 – 27 March 2018
Succeeded by
Sisi Ntombela