Mabuyakhulu is the 1st ANC member to step aside

MIKE Mabuyakhulu has become the first and most senior ANC member to withdraw from his duties because he has been charged with corruption. 

Mabuyakhulu, the deputy chairperson of the ANC in the KwaZulu-Natal province, stepped aside hours after the national working committee of the ANC, reaffirmed a decision by the party’s national executive committee that those facing serious charges should stand down from their political and official positions.

Those who do not step aside voluntarily face suspension.

Mabuyakhulu faces charges over R26-million spent by the KwaZulu-Natal government on the North Sea Jazz Festival which never took place. The charges relate to his tenure as the MEC for Economic Affairs. 

He has sent a letter to the ANC provincial secretary in which he said he was stepping aside to uphold ANC principles. 

“In line with the position adopted by our movement, I hereby respectfully tender to the office of the provincial secretary that I am stepping aside from my position as the provincial chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, with immediate effect as I hereby do. I must indicate that it has not been difficult for me to arrive at this decision, because I have done so before,” the wrote.

The NWC today reaffirmed that all members charged with corruption or other serious crimes must vacate their posts within 30 days or face suspension.

The NWC has also instructed that letters be written to affected members “implementing this decision, and outlining the terms and conditions regulating their participation and conduct during the suspension”.

The “step aside” rule is an important test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s control over the ANC and his commitment to tackle graft.

One of Ramaphosa’s most prominent party rivals, Secretary-General Ace Magashule, faces corruption charges but has refused to vacate his position in charge of the day-to-day running of the party that has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid. Other affected by the decision include ANC MP and former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo and Zandile Gumede, the ex Mayor of Ethekwini. Both Bongo and Gumede have appeared in court several times on serious charges that include fraud and corruption.

The NWC comprises top ANC officials and implements the decisions of the party’s executive.

The ANC said that at a meeting on Monday the NWC had received reports on party members charged with corruption or other serious crimes and the status of their cases.

A decision by a member to voluntarily “step aside” from their post would be reviewed by the party every six months, it added.

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