Former KZN MEC for economic affairs, Mike Mabuyakhulu, was relaxed as he appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court. Picture: ANA

Durban – The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal has profound respect for the law, its suspended chairperson Sihle Zikalala said on Wednesday night in response to the arrest of Mike Mabuyakhulu earlier in the day.

Mabuyakhulu, the convenor of the party’s provincial interim committee (PIC), handed himself over to the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday morning and appeared in the afternoon. He told the court he intended to plead not guilty to graft charges and was released on R50 000 bail.

Mabuyakhulu, the province’s former MEC for economic development, and several other co-accused are facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering relating to the transfer of R28 million for a 2012 jazz festival that never took place.

Read more: BREAKING: KZN ANC leader Mike Mabuyakhulu arrested

“As the ANC, we wish to express our profound respects of the rule of the law and support all efforts towards fighting corruption,” said Zikalala, who holds Mabuyakhulu’s former MEC position since Mabuyakhulu was axed in 2016.

Zikalala said it was important that Mabuyakhulu was afforded the opportunity to present his case and the “principle of presumption of innocence until proven otherwise” was adhered to. 

Zikalala is the co-ordinator of the PIC. Both men, together with a clutch of local ANC heavyweights, are responsible for preparing ANC members for a new provincial conference within a few months at which new leadership will be elected.

Also read: WATCH: Mike Mabuyakhulu case not politically motivated - Hawks

The ruling party’s national executive committee suspended the provincial leadership last month following a Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling last year that found the 2015 conference at which Zikalala was elected over then incumbent Senzo Mchunu was null and void.

Mchunu was premier at the time and was fired from that position shortly afterwards, as was Mabuyakhulu from his position, along with several others in the Mchunu administration.

The establishment of the PIC is regarded as a way to heal the deep factions in the province by keeping supporters of Zikalala - a Jacob Zuma ally - and Mchunu and Mabuyakhulu - allies of Cyril Ramaphosa - out of court in a bid to attain unity in the province.

African News Agency/ANA