The African National Congress congratulates its Secretary-General Cde Elias (Ace)
Magashule, on the occasion of the beautiful magnificent day, of his sixtieth anniversary
birthday celebration. It was during this joyful day of the 3rd of November, that the science
of nature, brought this outstanding revolutionary of our movement, into the horizons of our
In every life of a human being, turning sixty is one of the greatest milestones and indeed,
today, we are revered to celebrate the achievement of a golden life of such an outstanding
revolutionary and a freedom fighter, of the caliber of the leader of our national liberation
movement, Cde Elias Sekgobelo Magashule. With great humility, we embrace his history
of an unbroken record of a titanic life of a selfless servant of our people, whose
contribution to our struggle for the liberation of our people is a great inspiration to all
humanity”, the ANC said in a statement.
For a period of more than forty years, Cde Elias Sekgobelo Magashule, dedicated his life,
to the noble cause of our struggle for the emancipation of our people against imperialism
and the racist Apartheid colonial regime. His has been an immeasurable contribution to the
noble cause of our struggle for the freedom and dignity of our people.
The Secretary-General of the ANC was born on the 3rd of November 1959 in Tumahole,
Parys, in the Free State. He was raised single-handedly by his mother, who was a kitchen
girl in Sasolburg. Tumahole a town of the downtrodden and the working class, which is
known as the epicenter of our struggle against Black Local Authorities, Kornof Bills, VAT,
and therefore galvanizing the country into ungovernability. We remember the heroic
struggle of Tumahole July 15, 1984, Vaal Uprisings, September 3, 1984, to Cradock, and
the rest of the country.
He completed his primary education at Tumahole Primary School (now Lembede Primary).
Comrade Ace attended secondary school at Phehellang Secondary School, also in
Tumahole and later completed his matric at Residensia High School in Sebokeng.
He completed his tertiary education at the University of Fort Hare where he obtained a
degree of Bachelor of Arts( BA), he later went to the University of Witwatersrand where he
completed just only a year studying for an LLB degree. He also completed a certificate in
research and marketing with the University of South Africa( UNISA).
From a young age, Cde Elias Sekgobelo Magashule demonstrated his great affection and
concern to the appalling material conditions of our people. As a result, he was baptized
into the struggle against oppression and exploitation in the late seventies, which saw him
later arrested during the year 1982, whilst a student at the University of Fort Hare.
Together with his co-accused, they were charged with high treason for their political
activism against the repressive policies of the Apartheid regime.
He and the likes of Fezile Dabi, Bheki Mlangeni, Ntate Alfred Metele, from Mdantsane
were found guilty of public violence and furthering the aims and objectives of a banned
organization, the ANC. His legal team was Hintsa Siwisa and SC Moerane.
After completion of his Batchelor of Arts (BA) degree, he first taught as a teacher at
Moqhaka High School in Sebokeng, and later returned to teach at his home at Phehellang
High School, in Tumahole. He was known to be a politically conscious and activist teacher,
who was accutely aware of the political consequences of Bantu Education, and therefore a
volunteer of our struggle for the transformation of the lives of our people.
He refused to subject his pupils to the racist depravity of the Bantu Education curriculum and had a huge influence on the political conscientization and liberation of the learners
that he taught. Many political activists, who are still serving their communities and are
continuing to work for the full liberation of their people, came through his tutelage.
He groomed many young leaders in the Free State, the Vaal region, Potchefstroom,
SOWETO, Eastern Cape, the old Transvaal and many other parts of the country. He is
amongst the outstanding pioneers of COSAS, NEUSA, UDF, AZASO, Vaal Teachers
Organisation, Civic Movement, NECC and many other progressive formations in our
country. He was amongst those of our leaders who became instrumental in organizing
workers towards the formation of our giant federation, COSATU.
Throughout the years of his involvement in the struggle of our people, he occupied the
forefront trenches to lead our people against the brutality of the racist Apartheid regime.
He was part of those who became the nucleus of the intensification of our struggle to make
the evil racist Apartheid regime ungovernable.
This was at the time when he was working closely with leaders like Deacon Mathe and the
Cradock Four. This contingent of young heroic revolutionaries, worked tirelessly to
establish progressive structures of young people throughout the country.
In his lifetime as the leader of our national democratic revolution, he worked closely in the
underground with leaders like Chris Hani, Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Jacob Zuma.
He also rubbed shoulders with leaders such as Oliver Tambo, Alfred Nzo, Steve Tshwete,
Ike Maphoto, Josiah Jele, Charles Mabisela, Caleb Motshabi, Fezile Dabi, Peter Mokaba,
Ephraim Mogale, Ephraim Nkoe, Sol Tsotetsi, Bheki Mlangeni, Mandla Dlamini, Archie
Gumede, Barnard Molokoane, Nthato Motlana, Sister Barnard, Allen Boesak, Thosamile
Gwetha, Mafa Gqoci, Max Coleman, Paul Verryn, Duma Ndleleni, Jessie Duarte, Nomvula Mokonyane, Titus Mafolo, Paul Mashatile, Beyers Naude, Tom Manthata, Matthew Phosa, Rapu Molekane, Mike Biya, Stan Mathabatha, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Curnick Ndlovu, Samson Ndou, James Stuart,Pro Rabotapi , Borotho Letsoenyo, Kaiser
Sebothelo, Thabo Manyoni, Obed Bapela, Fikile Mbalula, Seiso Mohai, and many of the
cadres of our national liberation movement.
He was also highly involved in the release Mandela campaign with Cdes like Aubrey
Mokoena, Zindzi Mandela, Dali Mpofu, Kgabisi Musunkutu, Jabu Ngwenya, Mzwake
Mbuli, Tsheko Tshehlane, Mam Greta Ncaphayi, Curtis Nkondo, Tshediso Matona, Oupa
Tekere Monareng, Kgahliso Moeketse, and many others. He was indeed a dedicated
young leader at the forefront of our struggle for the liberation of our people.
He also worked closely with some of the outstanding legal minds of our country such as
Cdes Priscilla Jana, David Dison, Richard Spoor, Chris Waters, Krish Naidoo, Essop
Ayob, Mathew Chaskalson, Azar Cachalia, Jerome Mthembu, Mosheen Mosa, and many
others who today have distinguished themselves within the legal fraternity of our country
and the world.
During the mounting police harassment and intimidations, he spent considerable time
hiding at the houses of Mathew Chaskalson and David Dison. This was during the most
difficult period when the regime made many young people, refugees in their own country.
Comrade Winnie Madikezela-Mandela fondly recalled comrade Ace’s numerous visits to
her home in Branford where she was banished. The great revolutionary leader that she
was, she saw and appreciated the young comrade Ace’s commitment to the struggle and
his leadership abilities. Comrade Winnie and Chris Hani were his ardent mentors, and
Winnie Mandela always said she considers him to be one of her own children.
She was immensely proud to witness his rise into the ranks of the leadership of the ANC,
and so proudly celebrated his election as the Secretary-General of the ANC, at the 54th
National Conference on the ANC in 2017.
He was haunted by the security apparatus of the Apartheid regime for his involvement in
the activities of the United Democratic Front( UDF) and the underground. As a result, he
was incarcerated and spent nine months of torture in solidarity confinement.
He worked with many MK units during the underground both outside and within our
country. He also assisted many young people to go into exile, including his own relatives
whose remains are still in Tanzania. He also groomed and nurtured a group called the 14
which was led by Stompie Seipei.
On his return from exile comrade Ace was elected the Chairperson of the ANC’s Northern
Free State Region, and Chairperson of the ANC in the Free State. He served for many
years as a chairperson of the ANC Free State province and therefore a member of the
ANC National Executive Committee, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, Thabo
Mbeki, Jacob Zuma and now Cyril Ramaphosa.
Since the democratic breakthrough, which heralded the end of the years of colonial
oppression and exploitation, and the beginning of our new democratic dispensation, he
served in various leadership positions of our democratic government. He served as a MEC
of Sports, Arts and Culture, Economic Development, Agriculture and transport, and public works.
He also served as premier of the Free State provincial government from 2009 until he was elected as the Secretary-General of the ANC at its 54th national elective conference. He was also in the National Assembly serving on the portfolio committees of local government and communications.
During his tenure as both Chairperson of the ANC and the premier of the Free State
Province, Comrade Ace was hugely popular, and he was especially appreciated as a humble servant of the people, with the ability to get the job done, turned policy into active
service delivery, and dedicated to the economic empowerment of black people, especially
His tenure as Premier of the Free State became known for the huge infrastructural
developments, and improvement of the roads network – with a specific and deliberate
emphasis on providing roads and health infrastructure to poor and rural communities.
Simultaneously the provision of quality housing and the upgrading of facilities in the former
townships in the Free State became second-to-none in the whole of South Africa.
His term saw one of the impressive acceleration of housing provision to many of the
people of his province. He built state of the art houses for military veterans and equally
took responsibility for the education of their children in various disciplines throughout the
universities of our country and the world.
During his term as the Premier of the Free State province, his department received five
consecutive years of a clean audit from the Auditor General. A demonstration of his
commitment to clean and accountable administration.
These outstanding achievements of comrade Ace’s tenure as Free State Premier went
hand-in-hand with his commitment to protect the character of the ANC as a revolutionary
movement, committed towards the liberation of the black people in general and the
Africans in particular. The turning point was his overarching people-centered program of
Hlasela, which culminated in mobilizing many people as part of the ongoing collective
effort to improve our living conditions.
His defining feature has been his immeasurable commitment to improving the quality of
education and ensuring that the most marginalized get quality education as a weapon of
preparing the youth as the leaders of the future. Together with his collective, he sent more
than one thousand and four hundreds (1402) students to various countries of the world
such as Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, India, Germany, Bulgaria, USA, Nigeria, Brazil, Belarus,
Turkey, and Portugal. He amassed financial support from both black and white businesses
and also contributed from his pocket to support the students.
During his tenure, there was no single town of the Free State which did not have a
student studying outside the country, especially in medicine, nuclear programme, Aerospace, Agriculture and mining. With his collective, they would make sure that they visit
all the students studying in South African universities and abroad without fail. Impressively,
he would know each and every student by name, family background, and the towns they
The illustrious collective of his government gave opportunities to street kids to go to school
and universities and even turning Sex Workers as social workers. This is the epitome of a
revolutionary who instilled hope to many of the poor of the people of our country.
This sterling work, inspired his collective comprised of Tate Makgoe, Sello Tshabalala,
Mahloko Taleng, Thabo Manyoni to establish Tumahole Career-Guidance centre.
In recognition of his unprecedented and relentless service to the struggle of the poor and
the working class of our country, and more importantly, his dedication to the upliftment of
the standard of education of our people, the Bahcesehir University (BAU) in Istanbul,
Turkey conferred to him an honorary Doctorate in Philosophy in 2017.
This was a singular and well-deserved honour, which comrade Ace received with his trademark of humility, as he was at pains to dedicate the Doctorate to all the people in the Free State who worked with him, as a team, to make his tenure as Premier such a resounding success.
We in the ANC know comrade Ace as a humble and selfless servant of our people, who
will always be the first to say that the outstanding achievements of his tenure as Premier
was not his individual achievement, but that of his leadership collective. Comrade Ace is
known not to be meritorious, but a quintessential team player, which today make us to
appreciate his collective and individual achievements through his life as the leader of our
Despite the many pressures of his demanding office, comrade Ace has not allowed his
passion for education to wane. Also, now during his tenure as Secretary-General, he
continues to be the driving force behind sending many students abroad to improve their
tertiary education qualifications. The pride with which as a symbolic gesture, he will see
them as they depart at the OR Tambo International Airport, is an exemplary leadership
and inspiration to all of us in the ANC.
Our Secretary-General is known as a straight talker, who does not hide his commitment to
Radical Economic Transformation (RET), which is a conference resolution, and the need
for blacks, especially African, people to take control of their own economic destiny.
The ANC is aware that this singular commitment to the full economic liberation of his
people has made comrade Ace an enemy and target in certain circles of those forces
opposed to the transformation of the South African society, As a consequence, comrade
Ace has been the target of a most vicious and sustained media propaganda campaign,
which for this – the weekend of his sixtieth birthday celebrations – has deliberately been
pushed into top gear.
The ANC, our members, and the people of South Africa, who know comrade Ace
Magashule’s revolutionary dedication and selfless service are not fooled by such
propaganda attacks. We know that the highest trees always catch the most wind.
Thus, the African National Congress congratulates our Secretary-General on his birthday,
and in doing so ensure him of our unwavering support. We also extend our gratitude to his
family and loved ones for the manner in which they continue to support him in his
important work, and for them sharing this great revolutionary leader with us.
The ANC wishes our beloved, and highly respected SG, a very blessed and happy sixtieth
birthday. SG, we wish you the best of health and many more years of dedicated
revolutionary service to our Movement, and to the people of South Africa.