Information obtained by Independent Media shows that a heated provincial executive committee meeting that followed the decision that was announced on March 26 this year was later rescinded when members argued against it.
Two insiders who were part of the meeting said the grouping that opposed the resolution feared that it could not pass a legal test should members decide to go to court; in addition, it could be used to settle political scores within the party and to sideline senior members ahead of the formation of a provincial Cabinet.
The sidelining of members ahead of forming a new provincial Cabinet emanates from a feeling that Mluleki Ndobe, the mayor of Harry Gwala District Municipality, who was accused of having a hand in the killing of former ANC youth league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, was earmarked for a cabinet position as he is number three on the party list for members of the provincial legislature.
His supporters are still convinced that his arrest was intended to thwart his appointment.
“Before a PEC meeting starts, they have to adopt minutes from the previous one. The objection to have the decision to force out members was challenged from there, and in the end it was thrown out.
“Some members felt it was going to set a dangerous precedent to ask people to vacate positions even before they have been found guilty,” said an ANC insider in the province.
Another PEC member, a veteran of the party in the province, said it was agreed that, for now, those members who should be forced out were councillors who had been in custody for more than a month and refused bail, as that sort of thing was affecting service delivery.
One of these was ANC councillor Mthokozisi Nojiyeza of ward 80 in uMlazi. Nojiyeza is accused of having a hand in the death of another fellow ANC councillor from uMlazi, Sibusiso Maphumulo, who was shot dead in October last year.
“It was not totally shelving the resolution, as they are telling you.
“What we agreed upon after a debate was that while it was good to act on these allegations levelled against our members, it would be better to act against people like Nojiyeza, who has been refused bail and has been in custody for more than three months.
“We then said those people must be removed and have by-elections and allow those who are out on bail to clear their names as some may be found innocent by courts.
“For instance, we looked at the matter of Ndobe and said he is now a free man as the state has (provisionally) withdrawn charges against him and he is free to serve the people,” said the veteran.
The veteran concurred that there was a strong feeling that the decision to ask members to resign was taken in haste and under pressure from the public to see the party acting as quickly as possible.
“We even used the charges that were brought against (President Jacob) Zuma and said he was fired even though not found guilty and the charges were later withdrawn. Those charges nearly destroyed Zuma’s political career, and we must not repeat the same mistake,” the veteran said.
The above decision is believed to have allowed Newcastle mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, who is facing a murder charge following the death of Wandile Ngubeni of Newcastle in 2016, to dig in and stay put in his position both as mayor and ANC eMalahleni regional chairperson.
Ndobe’s case fell away when the State withdrew the charges, citing insufficient evidence. When he was asked about the matter, Ndobe referred all questions to the provincial secretary of the ANC, Mdumiseni Ntuli. Mahlaba was not available for comment, with all his known cellphone numbers switched off.
Notwithstanding evidence that the decision has been rescinded, party spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, who is also a PEC member, denied this.
“The decision has not been rescinded,” she said briefly.
When it was put to her that the reason Mahlaba had refused to vacate his seat as mayor was allegedly that the decision had been reversed, she said accused members had been given up to 30 days to make submissions as to why they should remain in their positions.
“Mahlaba’s 30 days have not elapsed yet.”