South Africa's ANC suspends Secretary General Magashule - local media

Ace Magashule, Ace Magashule are posing for a picture: FILE PHOTO: A supporter gestures in front of a picture of Ace Magashule, the secretary general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, ahead of his court appearance, at the Bloemfontein high court in the Free State province © Reuters/SIPHIWE SIBEKO FILE PHOTO: A supporter gestures in front of a picture of Ace Magashule, the secretary general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, ahead of his court appearance, at the Bloemfontein high court in the Free State province

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) has suspended its Secretary General, Ace Magashule, in line with tougher rules for party officials charged with corruption, Eyewitness News and state broadcaster SABC reported on Wednesday.

Magashule faces corruption charges over a contract to audit homes with asbestos roofs when he was premier of the Free State province. He denies the charges against him.

The ANC said in a statement on Tuesday that its National Working Committee had reaffirmed an earlier decision that all members charged with corruption or other serious crimes must "step aside" from their posts within 30 days or face suspension.

a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: FILE PHOTO: African National Congress Secretary General Ace Magashule speaks during an ANC Youth League rally in Pietermaritzburg © Reuters/Rogan Ward FILE PHOTO: African National Congress Secretary General Ace Magashule speaks during an ANC Youth League rally in Pietermaritzburg

ANC spokesman Pule Mabe had no immediate comment when called by Reuters on Wednesday.

Magashule is one of the ANC's top six most powerful officials, in charge of the day-to-day running of the party that has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid. He is one of President Cyril Ramaphosa's main rivals.

a man holding a phone: FILE PHOTO: Ace Magashule, secretary general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, addresses students © Reuters/SIPHIWE SIBEKO FILE PHOTO: Ace Magashule, secretary general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, addresses students

The "step aside" rule is an important test of Ramaphosa's control over the ANC and his commitment to tackle graft.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning and Wendell Roelf; editing by John Stonestreet, Alexandra Hudson)

South Africa's ANC suspends Secretary General Magashule - local media