Mike Mabuyakhulu falls on his sword, becomes first high ranking ANC member to step aside
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DURBAN - OPPOSITION parties have welcomed Mike Mabuyakhulu’s decision on Tuesday to step down as the ANC KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson saying they hoped others would “fall on their swords” too.
Mabuyakhulu faces charges of fraud‚ corruption and money laundering relating to R28 million paid by the provincial government in 2012 for the North Sea Jazz Festival that was scheduled for 2013‚ but never took place.
Mabuyakhulu wrote a letter to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule dated April 22, in which he offered to step aside, in accordance with the ANC’s national executive decision on March 29. He was among those given a 30-day deadline to step aside.
“I hereby tender to the provincial secretary that I am stepping aside from my position as the provincial deputy chairperson of the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal, with immediate effect,” Mabuyakhulu said in the letter.
In addition, he requested that his decision be immediately communicated to all members of the ANC.
Magashule was not available for comment. He said he was involved in a meeting and ANC MP Bongani Bongo did not answer calls after the ANC had made public its decision.
KZN ANC spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela confirmed that Mabuyakhulu had written and sent the letter to the secretary-general two weeks ago.
“As the province, we will get the full report next Monday after the NEC meeting at the weekend, which will process all those issues,” Ntombela said.
Mabuyakhulu did not respond to questions from the Daily News on Tuesday.
Former DA provincial leader Zwakhele Mncwango felt this was a good decision and he hoped others would follow suit.
EFF provincial chairperson Vusi Khosa concurred, saying they hoped to see more ANC leaders fall on their swords and step down to demonstrate that corruption and criminality do not pay.
“We challenge the ANC leaders to do the right thing and prove their claim of dealing with corruption. They must all step down,” said Khoza.
African People’s Convention leader Themba Godi said Mabuyakhulu’s decision was proof that ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was in charge, and this was a message to Magashule and his supporters.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the NWC’s decision reflected the balance of forces in the ANC. He argued that stepping aside before undergoing a disciplinary hearing was not consistent with the party’s constitution.
“It has nothing to do with commitment to deal with corruption. If the party wants to clean its image, it would have followed up on the vote-buying allegations against its current president,” said Seepe.
Professor Tumi Senokoane said that the move to step aside would have a permanent negative effect on the ANC. He asserted that it was yet to be seen whether both ANC factions would be affected.
“It is a nail in a coffin. It will drive out prominent leaders who have contributed to the growth of the party,” said Senokoane.
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe said this week that stepping aside was an act that reflected one’s consciousness which was vital to protect the image of the ANC, because the step-aside was not a punishment.
“It’s about one giving space to the ANC to actually recoup the lost ground in its reputational standing,” he said.
Mantashe stands accused of, among other things, bribing journalists, money laundering involving Bidvest and Eskom and being on the Bosasa payroll. Mantashe faces another separate allegation of corruption and fraud against his foundation.
Several other leaders of the ANC are facing allegations of criminal activities. Magashule was charged with corruption, fraud and money laundering in relation to a dubious R255m asbestos tender which was issued by the Free State government in 2013 while he was the provincial premier.
In KZN, a list of the 13 members accused include eThekwini councillors including Sithenjwa Nyawose and Mthokozisi Nojiyeza, who are accused of committing fraud during the issuing of waste tenders for the uMlazi township.
Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is among the accused in the multimillion-rand Durban Solid Waste (DSW) fraud and corruption case.
The State alleges the looting of the R320m DSW tender in 2017 was carried out under the guise of radical economic transformation.
Meanwhile, the ANC has placed Magashule in a conundrum after its decision to suspend him and other members facing criminal charges without an option of an appeal.
This is according to political analyst Prof Dirk Kotze minutes after the ANC spelt out conditions of the pending suspension of Magashule and others saying their suspension would be reviewed after every six months by the relevant structure of the organisation.
Kotze said Magashule and others had not been given an option to appeal against the ANC’s NWC decision.