PAC fires Pheko at congress

By Time of article published Jul 7, 2008

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By Sibusiso Ngalwa

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) has fired former president Motsoko Pheko - its sole MP.

Pheko was expelled in 2007, and has since fought to overturn that decision.

Pheko was appealing his expulsion at the party's congress. But, he said, party bosses had turned away his representative, meant to present his case.

Pheko was booked off by his doctor after undergoing an operation, and had presented a medical certificate to the party informing it of his condition.

This was the second time the PAC tried to remove Pheko from parliament.

In 2007 he successfully challenged his expulsion in the Cape High Court after the party's disciplinary committee found him guilty of misappropriating party funds.

The court ruled he had to be allowed to exhaust the party's appeal process.

The PAC's congress, held at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, the Eastern Cape, was to hear Pheko's case and decide his fate.

Pheko denies the charges against him, arguing that party president Letlapa Mphahlele is behind a campaign to discredit him and strip him of his parliamentary seat.

PAC Spokesperson Mudini Maivha said the party would inform National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete's office of Pheko's axing.

Maivha denied that Pheko's representative, Mthuthuzeli Mama, had not been allowed the right to represent Pheko.

"Mama met me and presented the letter from Pheko. I told him that I would have to consult with the leadership and give him an answer. I then called him twice and even sent him SMSs to inform him that he could represent Pheko, but he never responded and instead switched off his phone," said Maivha.

Pheko, said Maivha, had not shown any intent to answer to the charges he was facing.

"He never attended the disciplinary hearing and since his dismissal he has not shown willingness to address issues that led to his expulsion.

"Instead he was challenging the authority, legality and legitimacy of the leadership," said Maivha.

In response, Pheko said the appeal committee had not been properly constituted.

"They turned away my representative. Besides, what appeal are they dismissing when they didn't hear the appeal? I wasn't even (allowed) to lead evidence in the commission, how was I going to state my case?"

Pheko said he hadn't yet been formally informed of the party's decision.

He refused to say whether he would challenge his expulsion again.

The new leadership of the party was elected on Sunday, and Mphahlele was declared president.

He was the only nominee for the position.

Mfanelo Skwatsha was elected secretary-general, Andiswa Mjali his deputy and Frank Ngidi treasurer.

"These positions were unopposed," said the PAC's Eastern Cape spokesperson, Waters Toboti.

He said the party had scrapped the positions of deputy president, national chairperson and national organiser. "We had to do away with these so that the party can have a more functional structure. They were just a duplication and caused conflict. We are streamlining."

The congress was also expected to announce amendments to its constitution and deal with other internal problems, he said.

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