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Titus Mafolo heads ANC task team looking into party links as Magashule defamation case plays out

Thabo Mbeki's former political adviser Titus Mafolo has taken over as task team chairperson investigating links between ANC members and the establishment of smaller parties ahead of the 2019 national elections.

Mafolo takes over the role from another former president, Kgalema Motlanthe.

In May, the ANC's national working committee (NWC) resolved to investigate the matter following claims the party's secretary general, Ace Magashule, and former president Jacob Zuma were the masterminds behind the establishment of the African Transformation Movement (ATM).

News24 understands a report from the task team is expected in the next two weeks.

The ATM, led by Vuyolwethu Zungula, was one of many small parties that emerged in the lead-up to the 2019 general elections, with some inside and out of the governing party claiming it was a plot to dramatically reduce the ANC's majority and possibly even force it into coalitions.

"The work of the task team was never suspended, it continues. Titus [Mafolo] has now taken over from Motlanthe and he is working alongside Frene Ginwala and Willis Mchunu, "ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told News24 following Wednesday's NWC meeting.

Mabe, however, refused to commit to a timeline, saying extensions could be granted depending on how the investigations panned out.

READ: 'Magashule facilitated payment of ATM' – Ngqulwana stands firm on his statements in defamation suit

Magashule, who is at the center of the claims, has since filed a defamation lawsuit against Buyisile Ngqulwana, the former general-secretary of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ, demanding R500 000 in damages.

He said the claims have damaged his name and demanded an apology from Ngqulwana.

Ngqulwana, on the other hand, insisted his claims were true, even accusing Magashule of paying money to a foundation behind the party.

The ANC's national executive committee and NWC co-ordinator, Andries Nel, and ANC legal adviser Krish Naidoo are supporting the task team.

"The terms of reference remain unchanged. You will recall when we previously laid out the team, we announced the terms of reference, which included inviting comrades to share whatever info they think is necessary to help the work of the task team," said Mabe .

He added while there had been timelines in the past and there was a need to wrap up the investigation quickly, the task team would approach Magashule's office for an extension.

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