Despite calls for the ANC eMalahleni regional chairperson, Ntuthuko Mahlaba, to step down in the wake of his criminal conviction, the party’s leadership is rallying behind him.
The Newcastle Magistrates Court on Monday found Mahlaba, who is a former ANC Newcastle mayor, guilty of assault and sentenced him to two years imprisonment with an option of a R20 000 fine.
According to the ANC’s step-aside policy, convicted members or those who are facing criminal offences should step down from their leadership positions.
On Wednesday Mahlaba’s opponents within the ANC in the eMalahleni region called on the ANC provincial leadership to remove him from the top position.
“The ANC is losing the confidence of voters – now is not the right time for any ANC region to be led by a convicted criminal.
“We are hoping that this time around the ANC leadership will do the right thing and remove him from the regional chairperson position,” an ANC member in the region said.
However, ANC provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, said Mahlaba will keep his regional chairperson position provided the former mayor paid the R20 000 fine.
“If he pays the fine and avoids going to prison, then there is no need for him to step down.
“As things stand, there is nothing compelling the ANC provincial leadership to act against him,” he said.
Mahlaba, who is a medical doctor by training, was convicted after he was charged with theft, assault and malicious damage to property following the assault of an employee of a fibre cable contractor in Newcastle.
In October the ANC provincial leadership removed Mahlaba from the ANC councillor candidate list after he appeared in court in connection with the assault charges
Mahlaba on Monday handed over his Newcastle mayoral chains to IFP councillor, Xolani Dube after an IFP-led coalition had taken over the council.