The ANC in Mpumalanga has relieved Ehlanzeni district municipality speaker Milton Morema of his duties following allegations that he is behind the murder of former district chief whip Johan Ndlovu.
In an ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting held on Friday a resolution was taken remove Morema as speaker to save the image of the organisation.
“I can confirm that the PEC met on Friday and looked into various issues on the matter of comrade Morema. We looked at Morema as a person, the image of the institution from which he has been deployed, the ANC as a brand which he serves and we saw that these are serious allegations and he should be relieved of his duties,” said ANC provincial secretary Lucky Ndinisa on Monday.
Ndinisa emphasised that Morema would be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, but also highlighted that it was not the first time that he (Morema) had murder allegations levelled against him.
“So we decided to give Mr. Morema space to deal with the allegations levelled against him and we felt that he must do that not as a speaker. He will just be an ordinary councilor (at the district), but not a speaker,” Ndinisa told African Eye News Service.
He said no replacement has yet been found to fill the position of speaker at Ehlanzeni.
Asked if Morema had been informed of the decision, Ndinisa said the PEC would inform him on Monday afternoon.
When AENS contacted for comment, a clearly shocked Morema said he was not aware he had been removed as speaker.
“What? No, I have not been formally told about that; I will wait for a formal communiqué from the ANC,” said Morema. “However as a disciplined member of the ANC, if the movement says I must jump I will not ask why, but will ask how high and how many times?”
Morema and former Bushbuckridge ward councillor Douglas Mboweni have been named in a confession as being behind the hit on Ndlovu who was shot dead on the night of January 5 2011.
At the time, Ndlovu was the top contender for the position of mayor of Ehlanzeni municipality. The other contenders were Morema, who was the mayor of Bushbuckridge at the time, and former Ehlanzeni speaker Caswell Maluleke.
Police have been in possession of the confession since January 7 2011, two days after Ndlovu was murdered in Edinburgh village (also known as Luphungu) near Bushbuckridge.
The confession from murder accused, Bongani Mkasi, 28, and Mondi Khoza, 24, were read in court during their trial in June this year.
The court also heard that tavern owner Velaphi John Ndlovu promised the two accused and a third accused – Life Khoza, 23, who has already been convicted for the murder – R30 000 to kill the chief whip.
The three men allegedly received only R3 000, which they split equally amongst each other.
Morema has labelled the allegations against him as “wild.”
Mboweni has also distanced himself from the allegations, saying he had quit politics because he was already old.
Meanwhile, Mpumalanga police commissioner Major General Thulani Ntobela has said police will not be pressured into arresting Morema or Mboweni.
He said the police will only take action once current murder suspects Mkasi and Khoza are sentenced in the Nelspruit circuit of the Pretoria High Court.