Beleaguered Shelembe quits all posts

2011-06-22 00:00

JUBILATION and ululation by disgruntled ANC activists greeted news that Alpha Shelembe has stepped down as Msunduzi Deputy Mayor, councillor and ANC regional treasurer.

The group is staging a sit-in protest at the ANC’s Moses Mabhida (Pietermaritzburg) regional offices.

After a wait of almost two hours by journalists, who turned out in large numbers, a relaxed-looking Shelembe made his announcement at a press conference at Redlands Hotel and Lodge in Wembley yesterday afternoon.

Shelembe denied any involvement in the arson attack on the ANC offices in which he was implicated by convicted arsonist Themba Mbona. He also denied allegations made recently by former deputy mayor Mervyn Dirks.

“I am also aware of people who have complained about my deployment as the Deputy Mayor of Msunduzi Municipality. I have been a member of the ANC and always accepted deployment to serve the ANC and the people. I place the ANC above my own personal interests. I have never considered using the ANC position for my personal gains …

“I know that I am innocent and that I have been deployed by the ANC … but these developments have impacted on the integrity of the ANC and the council … I also carry a responsibility to protect the images of these institutions.

“I have taken a decision to step down as the Deputy Mayor of Msunduzi Municipality and from being a councillor, [and to] withdraw from the position of regional treasurer until the ANC completes its investigation on all issues affecting our region,” Shelembe said.

When The Witness broke the news to ANC activists occupying the offices, they rejoiced. Women ululated and young activists sang struggle songs and toyi-toyied. Older people among the sit-in protesters punched the air as a sign of victory.

However, the protesters said Shelembe’s exit will not end their three-week sit-in.

Said Sbongile Mkhize, who has been part of the protest since May 30, “We are very happy to get one positive development, but we will continue with the protest until all our demands are met.

“Central to our demands is the disbanding of the Moses Mabhida regional executive council (REC) and for the province to take over the region, as well as the removal of REC members who put themselves high up on the election list during the ANC’s nomination process.

“We are not prepared to compromise on that …

“The protest will stop once the other REC members have done the noble thing, by resigning en masse.”

Mkhize said that among the Msunduzi Municipality officials they want to see removed are speaker Zonke Mbatha, council whip Thobani Zuma and executive committee member Tholakele Dlamini.

Others whom they want removed are uMgungundlovu District Municipality speaker and ANC Moses Mabhida chairperson Edward Dladla, Deputy Mayor Fucwana Zungu, council whip Sandile Gabela and the ANC regional secretary, councillor Supa Zuma.

In uMshwathi Municipality they are demanding the removal of speaker Nonhlanhla Msomi, who is also the ANC’s deputy regional secretary.

Commenting on Shelembe’s stepping down, regional ANC chairperson Edward Dladla welcomed the development and said they are now awaiting the completion of the investigation by the task team established by the provincial executive committee (PEC) to investigate all the problems surrounding the Moses Mabhida region.

In an interview with The Witness, Supa Zuma, who has reportedly previously dismissed as nonsense that Mbona worked for him, admitted that the convicted arsonist was indeed his driver, but he refused to comment further “as this matter is sub judice”.

Scores of journalists from the electronic and print media waited patiently for Shelembe’s arrival for two hours. Organisers of the press conference phoned him repeatedly as he was also appearing in court in connection with a fraud case.

On his arrival he was accompanied by a group of several people including Supa Zuma, Msomi, Dladla, and the ANC’s deputy regional chairperson, Bhekani Nzimande.‘

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