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ANC clears Tshabalala

Suspended ANC chief whip in the Free State provincial Legislature, Vusi Tshabalala, is set to bounce back in his position after he was acquitted by the party’s Provincial Disciplinary Committee (PDC) on a charge of working with the opposition ahead of last year’s local government elections.

At the hearing held on May 10 and 11, 2022 at the ANC provincial head office Kaizer Sebothelo House in Bloemfontein, Tshabalala faced two counts, namely organising and participating in a meeting which discussed the possibility of the party working with the opposition in the November municipal elections as well as trying to bring the party into disrepute.

Both cases however quickly collapsed due to lack of evidence.

Tshabalala, who is a strong ally of Ace Magashule, was represented by Mathews Phosa while the party had Steven Mabalane.

The PDC panel was chaired by Mongi Ntwanambi with Makalo Mohale, Linda Makhubu and Mando Shasha as the other members.

The committee called two witnesses on the first count – Ntswaki Shasha and Ncubuka Ntswaki.

Bongani Madonsela was the sole witness on the second count.

On the first count, it was alleged that on September 22, 2021, Tshabalala convened and participated in a meeting of ANC members at Robala Lodge in QwaQwa where members discussed the possibility of the party working with the opposition.

This, according to the charge sheet, resulted in a number of those ANC members gathered – Mamotimpana Mosoeu, Ntswaki Molehe and Mokete Mohai – being registered at the Independent Electoral Commission as candidates for the All Unemployed Labour Alliance (AULA) for the November 2021 local government elections.

The second count was said to have occurred on October 4, 2021 when he allegedly went on Lesedi FM and stated that the ANC was working with the DA to remove him as its chief whip in the provincial legislature.

The ANC argued the statement was not true and that it only intended to bring the party into disrepute.

However, Shasha and Ntswaki, who testified on the first count, failed to provide evidence pointing to Tshabalala as the organiser of the Robala meeting and being present at the event.

“Shasha testified that there was a meeting . . . at Robala Lodge but also testified that she was not at the meeting. The witness testified that she only learned of . . . Tshabalala being part of AULA after meeting Mr Sdumo who works for the IEC,” the PDC found.

It said Ntswaki told the PDC that she received a call from Mamaponesa Mokoena on September 22, 2021 requesting her to organise transport for 15 ANC members who wanted to attend the Robala Lodge meeting.

“The witness testified that she could not go to the meeting and thus could not confirm the presence of . . . Tshabalala . . . this evidence could be argued as hearsay and does not directly implicate . . . Tshabalala as the organiser of the meeting or as having participated in the said meeting,” the PDC said.
On the second count, the PDC case collapsed equally fast.

The witness, Madonsela, testified that he heard Tshabalala speaking on Lesedi FM making the allegations that the ANC was working with the DA to oust him.

He presented a recording which he claimed contained the voice of Tshabalala making those claims.

He said he had recorded it while listening to the station.

“On cross examination, the witness confirmed that the recording is not his direct evidence but someone else’s (radio presenter) – extracted information and as such cannot confirm or deny anything relating to the date of recording, authenticity thereof and possible tempering thereof . . .

“The disciplinary committee therefore acquit the charged member on all charges,” read the ruling.

Tshabalala, who is the former executive mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung, is however not yet out of the woods as President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the Special Investigating Unit in August 2020 to investigate allegations of corruption, maladministration and the awarding of tenders at that municipality.

He was kicked out as the mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung in 2018 following a vote of no confidence.

He also claimed at the time that some ANC members had voted with the opposition DA for his ouster.

In same year, the municipality was placed under administration after the opposition alleged deep-seated financial bleeding and maladministration.

Thabo Meeko, a member of the ANC Interim Provincial Committee, has been acting as the party’s chief whip in the provincial Legislature. – Staff Reporter

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