Corruption accused Ramaphosa ally who was placed on ’step aside’ leave to address ANC lecture
Durban - KwaZulu-Natal ANC members were left confused on Wednesday afternoon when a party event poster indicated that one of their prominent leaders, who "stepped aside" alongside former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, has quietly resumed his party duties.
KZN provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu is billed as the keynote speaker at the Moses Mabhida memorial lecture on Sunday, even though his corruption and fraud trial is still pending before the Durban Commercial Crimes Court. Gumede, who is facing a similar case, is still out in the cold.
Late in August, the ANC in KZN convened a special provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting to discuss the Mabuyakhulu and Gumede's matters. That was shortly after an uproar over the party's decision to move Gumede from eThekwini municipality, where she was an ordinary councillor after being demoted as mayor, to take over a vacancy as an MPL in the provincial legislature.
During the week of Gumede's promotion, the national office of the ruling party had requested a list of all party leaders accused of wrongdoing to decide how to deal with them. So the decision, at least in some quarters, was seen as defiance.
After the meeting, which one political analyst said was to make decisions to save face, the PEC announced that Mabuyakhulu and Gumede had to step aside until they had cleared their names.
But in a yet another twist, Mabuyakhulu appears to be back at his desk.
On Wednesday a poster was circulated by ANC Ward 13 in the Moses Mabhida region (uMgungundlovu district, anchored in Pietermaritzburg). They announced that Mabuyakhulu, a key Cyril Ramaphosa backer in the province, would be delivering the memorial lecture honouring Mabhida, a stalwart of the ANC and South African Communist Party whom the region is named after.
The event would be held on Sunday (October 25, 2020) at Westgate sports grounds in Pietermaritzburg.
Asked how Mabuyakhulu could resume party duties before clearing his name, ANC spokesperson in KZN, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, revealed one of the party's best-kept secrets.
He said the last ANC PEC meeting had received submissions from the former MEC and decided to lift his suspension. Strangely though, in the post-PEC statement, the decision was not made public. The party may have feared a backlash if it was seen as selectively applying the "step aside" resolution.
"The last PEC got a report on the matter of Comrade Mike Mabuyakhulu which recommended that his stepping aside be set aside after having made presentations to the Integrity Committee of which they were satisfied with his candid explanation of his situation.
"We will now await his court appearance and the guidelines still to be finalised by the NEC (national executive committee) in interpreting the meaning of step aside," Ntombela said.
Mabuyakhulu himself is yet to reply to questions Independent Media sent him on the matter.