Cele’s still a comrade fit for a political job

2012-06-18 00:00

ANC MEMBERS should not harbour “untoward” feelings towards President Jacob Zuma about Bheki Cele, as the axed top cop remained a “comrade” with a political future.

This was according to KZN ANC deputy chairperson Willies Mchunu, speaking at yesterday’s opening of a two-day workshop in Durban for delegates attending the party’s national policy conference, which will take place later this month.

Mchunu said the findings of the Moloi Board of Inquiry that Cele was not fit to hold office as police chief, had not made him “unacceptable” to the ANC.

The findings had dealt with operational issues.

Nor should there be “untoward” feelings for Zuma, who was doing what was within his responsibilities as South African president, said Mchunu.

Mchunu and other ANC provincial leaders have been left in no doubt about Cele’s popularity, with his supporters lobbying strongly for his political comeback.

Mchunu himself was forced to interrupt his welcoming address in Newcastle when Cele staged a late entrance, a la Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and received a standing ovation from the gathered delegates.

It was a clear message to the party’s leadership, including Zuma.

Yesterday, Mchunu called for patience.

He said there were people in the province who were Cele’s supporters and who were agitating that more should be done for him.

He said party leaders were dealing with the matter of Cele’s political future and members would be informed in due course.

Cele “remains our comrade”, he said.

Mchunu said there was no doubt that Cele had made a major contribution to politics in the province and in the fight against crime.

He noted that this was also acknowledged by Zuma when he made the official announcement last week that Cele had been axed.

Mchunu gave the opening address at the workshop in place of ANC provincial chairperson Dr Zweli Mkhize, who is in Brazil leading a provincial delegation attending a climate change conference.

Meanwhile, Cele remains determined to clear his name.

He is expected to file court papers on Thursday for a judicial review of the board’s findings and the president’s decision to fire him.

Yesterday, the DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard maintained that her party would push for a criminal investigation against Cele, in line with a suggestion in the Moloi board of inquiry report that it be considered.

Kohler Barnard said the DA would seek a commitment from Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to this end or else her party would institute its own investigation.

Meanwhile, provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni declined to comment yesterday on reports that she would face a disciplinary hearing this week.

The Moloi board of inquiry took her to task for her alleged attempt to mislead it.

To have done so under oath was “disturbing and could not be overlooked”, it said, adding it would have expected “honesty for the sake of the integrity of the service”.

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