DURBAN – The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has profound respect for the law, its suspended chairman Sihle Zikalala said on Wednesday night in response to the arrest of the convener of the party’s provincial interim committee (PIC) earlier in the day.
Mike Mabuyakhulu handed himself over to the Durban Commercial Crimes Court. He told the court he intended to plead not guilty to fraud, corruption and money laundering charges and was released on R50,000 bail.
Mabuyakhulu, the province’s former MEC for economic development, and several other co-accused face prosecution related to the transfer of R28-million for a 2012 jazz festival that never took place.
“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, the co-ordinator of the PIC, 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.
Mabuyakhulu and Zikalala, together with a number of local ANC heavyweights, are responsible for preparing party members for a new provincial conference within a few months at which new leadership will be elected.
The ANC's national executive committee suspended the provincial leadership in January following a Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling in 2017 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.