Top ANC Leader Admitted to Taking Bribe, South Africa Probe Told

(Bloomberg) -- Ace Magashule, the secretary-general of South Africa’s ruling party, admitted to receiving monthly payments of 1 million rand ($71,000) from Rajesh “Tony” Gupta to help further his family’s business interests, a judicial panel that’s probing graft has heard.

Mxolisi Dukwana, a former head of economic development in the central Free State province, testified that Magashule made the admission during a meeting at the Gupta’s Johannesburg home, he said at the commission of inquiry into state capture Friday.

Magashule, who oversees the day-to-day running of the ruling African National Congress, needs to be given the opportunity to respond to Dukwana’s allegations and the commission is likely to call upon him to do so, Dakota Legoete, the ANC’s acting spokesman, said by phone.

Dukwana told the panel Rajesh Gupta offered him 2 million rand at that meeting in exchange for signing a letter to develop information-technology projects, and another 2 million rand a month for the duration of the contracts, which could have stretched for as long as a decade.

Dukwana, who said he refused the offer, was fired from his post in 2012 by Magashule, who was premier of the Free State at the time. A book released last week by investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh implicates Magashule in a string of other illicit dealings during his time as premier. The Guptas, who are friends of former President Jacob Zuma, and the ex-national leader have denied any wrongdoing.

The ANC on Sunday issued a statement saying that the allegations in the book were an attempt to deface the party before the May 8 general election. The organization now plans to retract the statement, Legoete told radio broadcaster Cape Talk on Wednesday. In an interview with broadcaster eNCA, Magashule said he would sue the author of the book because it was full of “lies.”

The judicial panel, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, was established to probe allegations that billions of rand of taxpayer funds was stolen from the government coffers by the Guptas and other Zuma allies with his tacit consent. The panel doesn’t have the powers to prosecute anyone and criminal charges would have to be pursued by the police and National Prosecuting Authority.

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