ANC top dogs in the line of fire
NEC ‘step-aside’ drive to hit slew of senior party members
● President Cyril Ramaphosa’s hand will be strengthened at this weekend’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting if, as expected, it places on suspension all party leaders who refuse to step aside despite facing corruption charges.
Senior members in four provinces, most of them in the anti-Ramaphosa group, are expected to be booted out of their posts pending finalisation of their court cases.
The Sunday Times understands that provincial leaders want the NEC to officially endorse a decision by the national working committee (NWC) that those who have not voluntarily stepped aside should be sent suspension letters.
In KwaZulu-Natal, provincial deputy chair Mike Mabuyakhulu has already voluntarily stepped aside.
Former eThekwini regional chair Zandile Gumede, accused of unduly benefiting to the tune of R2.9m from an eThekwini waste collection tender, is expected to be suspended from the party in the coming week.
Gumede is a staunch Jacob Zuma ally and her suspension would affect the balance of power in the provincial ANC.
Mabuyakhulu, a Ramaphosa supporter, is facing fraud and corruption charges arising from a jazz festival that was staged while he was economic development MEC.
He is the first ANC leader in KwaZulu-Natal to voluntarily step aside from his position. In a letter sent to the provincial leadership,
Mabuyakhulu says while he believes that a person is innocent until proven otherwise by the courts, he respects the ANC’s stepaside policy.
In the Free State, former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli — a co-accused with ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in the R255m asbestos scandal — is expected to be suspended within days.
Mlamleli stood firm in support of Magashule when they appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court in October last year amid calls that he had to step down.
She told a group of supporters gathered at the court that Magashule was going nowhere.
The axe has already fallen on many of the leaders facing charges in the Eastern Cape — including former health MEC Sindiswa Gomba — most of whom are implicated in the R10m corruption case relating to the funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013.
Apart from Gomba — who was fired as MEC in February — others charged in the case include Zukiswa Ncitha, a former Buffalo City mayor; Temba Tinta, a former Buffalo City deputy mayor; Ondela Vatile Mahlangu, a former director in the mayor’s office; Luleka Ndzele, a former Buffalo City council speaker; Thembelani Sali, a former municipal supply chain manager; and Phumzile Mkolo, the ANC regional secretary.
Amathole regional secretary Teris Ntuthu, an opponent of premier and provincial chair Oscar Mabuyane, has also been suspended.
Ntuthu is facing charges of corruption and fraud in connection with the awarding of tenders in Mnquma municipality.
In Limpopo, powerful provincial treasurer Danny Msiza is expected to be suspended for a second time in connection with the looting of the VBS Mutual Bank.
The party first acted against him in 2018, after he was named in the Terry Motau report on the bank scandal, but later reinstated him.
The Pretoria high court, in August last year, set aside the Motau report findings in respect of Msiza.
But in March, Msiza and former provincial ANC Youth League leader Kabelo Matsepe were arrested on charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money-laundering in relation to VBS Mutual Bank.
The ANC’s new resolve to act against those in its ranks charged with crimes — demonstrated by the suspension letter sent to Magashule this week — comes nearly four years after Ramaphosa won the party leadership on an anti-corruption platform.
The NEC adopted step-aside guidelines in March after a protracted, fraught internal debate that has deepened divisions within the party — and continues to do so.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Mdumiseni
Ntuli told the Sunday Times that suspension letters would be sent after the NEC meeting.
“We have not, as yet, issued any suspension letters to affected comrades in KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
“We are going to follow on this matter after the NEC meeting, is taking place this weekend.”
The NEC meeting, which started yesterday, ends tomorrow.