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The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal would like ousted police commissioner Bheki Cele to return to the province and play a major role in local politics.
Cele was fired by president Jacob Zuma last week following findings by Justice Jack Moloi that he was not fit to hold the key position.
Deputy ANC chairman in KZN and leader of government business Willies Mchunu told a two-day ANC KZN policy workshop, currently under way in Durban, that Moloi’s findings did not make Cele “unacceptable” to the ANC.
“All that the findings deal with are operational issues. We are saying there should be no panic. Let the ANC deal with the issue of Cele. The province is clear and is handling the issue properly with all those who are concerned, including Cele,” said Mchunu.
He urged ANC members to give the party’s leadership space to handle Cele’s future through its structures.
“Comrades will be informed of what happens to Cele. All we are saying is that he (Cele) remains our comrade.
“There is no doubt he has made a major contribution. Even the president said so. He is a comrade whose skills could be utilised effectively when all (these) matters have been attended to,” said Mchunu, without elaborating.
Mchunu’s address on Cele echoed the feelings of a number of ANC regional chairmen who last week expressed a view that Cele could still play a major political role in the province. However, with all conferences having taken place in the province, it is not clear how Cele could be accommodated.
Nhlanhla Mtaka of the Ingabadi Group, a research and political consultancy, said the Moloi findings did not rule out Cele as someone who could be employed.
However, he said, it might not be politically astute for him to seek a role in KZN.
“This will portray him as desperate. He could pursue a job in government or at diplomatic level, because returning to the provincial government might reduce his status. For now, I think a diplomatic post will be good,” he said.
“He needs to assess his political value. Whatever he does, he must do correctly and within the next six months. If he delays his move, his value will drop and he will become a ‘normal’ person in the ANC.”
The policy workshop sought to solidify the ANC KZN position on a number of policy issues, including the nationalisation of mines, the size of the ANC NEC, which it wants reduced, and policies relating to supply chain management and the government tendering system.