Double-murder accused back in contention for top ANC post | City Press

Double-murder accused back in contention for top ANC post | City Press

Milton Morena. Photo: Supplied

Milton Morena. Photo: Supplied


An ANC member in Mpumalanga, Milton Morema, whose political career was dented by allegations of murder, is back in contention for a top position. His name has been gaining traction during the ongoing provincial nominations ahead of next year’s elections.

Morema is a backbencher in the Ehlanzeni District Local Municipality. He was the council speaker before he was linked to the 2012 assassination of the district’s ANC chief, Johan Ndlovu, in January 2011.

Following the murder charge, the ANC provincial executive committee demoted Morema to a councillor. Ndlovu was a strong contender to become the district’s mayor in the local government polls that year. He was shot and left to die in the boot of his car in Hluvukani near Bushbuckridge.

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Morema was implicated by one of the accused, who claimed Morema had promised him and his co-accused R10 000 each and government tenders if they would kill the chief whip.

However, when Bongani Mkasi (30) and Mundi Khoza (26) were found guilty of murder, aggravated armed robbery and the possession of an illegal firearm, Morema was cleared of all the charges. Mkasi and Khoza were jailed for 40 years in 2013.

But, despite appeals from the SA Communist Party (SACP), the ANC did not reinstate him as speaker. When Ndlovu was killed, Mpumalanga was reeling from the so-called January killings.

Then national police commissioner, Bheki Cele, appointed a task team to investigate the murders. But 12 years later, the findings of the team’s probe are yet to be made public.

Ndlovu’s murder followed the assassination of former Mbombela speaker, Jimmy Mohlala, in January 2009. Mohlala blew the whistle on the 2010 Mbombela World Cup stadium tender corruption. Then there was former provincial sport, arts and culture spokesperson, Sammy Mpatlanyane, who was gunned down in January 2010. He was killed after he found out that his signature was forged in a multimillion project. When Morema was the mayor of Bushbuckridge in 2008, he was also accused of murder.

Morema and his uncle, Erasmus Makhubedu, were accused of killing Jeffrey Sedibe when he tried to claim the R17 000 he was allegedly promised to kill political opponent Motion Mashile. The case was struck off the court roll after a key witness refused to testify.

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Now Morema’s name appears on a faction list that puts Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane at the top of a province-to-province category. This means that, if he reaches a threshold after the nomination process, he will make it into the Mpumalanga legislature after next year’s national elections.

This list also resuscitates the ambitions of fallen comrades such as former ANC deputy provincial chairperson, Charles Makola and ex-communications minister, Dina Pule, who was recently elected the deputy secretary of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL). This week Morema declined to comment and referred questions to SACP provincial secretary Lucky Mbuyane. Morema is the SACP’s secretary in the Ehlanzeni region.

Mbuyane said that the relations between the ANC and SACP were strained when Morema was demoted. He added that there had been resistance for him to be reinstated when he was cleared of murder.

“The allegations were factional. No ANC processes kicked in [when the allegations were made] but his political career was somehow hampered,” Mbuyane said.

“He is still a leader of the ANC. He leads a branch and is an ANC councillor. He has stood tall despite the allegations levelled against him.”

ANC provincial secretary, Muzi Chirwa, said no one would be unfairly treated after the nomination process, which wraps up tomorrow.

“The guidelines are clear on the members who were charged and not charged, [of any crimes]” Chirwa said.

He said that it was “mischievous of comrades to draft lists but they should allow branches to nominate freely”. The nomination process was 50% complete, Chirwa said.

When the time for deployment comes next year, it is expected that Mpumalanga will submit three names to the national executive committee for the premier – the current provincial chairperson, Mandla Ndlovu, Mtshweni-Tsipane and Pule.

Pule’s recent rise in the ANCWL has re-ignited her ambition to lead the province. She harboured such ambitions before she was appointed to former president Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet in 2011 as the first minister from Mpumalanga. Pule was fired in 2013 after Parliament found her guilty of transgressing both its ethical code and the country’s law. This followed the scandal involving her boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa, who had been awarded government contracts.