Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has “released” agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs MEC Mandla Msibi from his position in the provincial executive with immediate effect.
Mtsweni-Tsipane said this during a media briefing on Tuesday evening, and that the decision was in line with the ANC’s step-aside rule.
“It is common cause that the governing ANC has set itself a particular moral standard that all of us as its public representatives have to abide by. The step-aside rule has been effected, but prior to that there were internal processes that were followed,” said Mtsweni-Tsipane.
The decision would also afford the accused an opportunity to deal with the matter before the courts, said the premier.
Cogta MEC Busisiwe Shiba would step in to act in the position.
The premier’s announcement came a few hours after the Mpumalanga ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) resolved that Msibi step aside.
The 45-year-old, who is also a member of the PEC and head of elections for Mpumalanga, is alleged to have been involved in a shooting incident that happened near a popular drinking spot in Mbombela on 22 August.
Two ANC members – Sindela Sipho Lubisi and Dingane Ngwenya – were killed while another party member, Sfiso Mpila, was injured. The shooting incident was understood to be related to party infighting over the ANC’s list processes.
Msibi handed himself over to police in Nelspruit on Monday, accompanied by his attorney, and was subsequently charged with two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.
Msibi made his first appearance at the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Monday and his bail application was postponed to Tuesday.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika on Tuesday evening, acting ANC secretary in Mpumalanga Lindiwe Ntshalintshali confirmed that the MEC had been called to step aside from his roles.
“We view these allegations as serious allegations. The PEC has resolved that he step aside to give him an opportunity to deal with the allegations because these are really serious allegations against him,” said Ntshalintshali.
Meanwhile, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said when a member of the party appeared in a court of law on criminal charges, the step-aside rule would automatically apply.
The member would also be required to appear before the party’s integrity committee, which deals with members who bring the organisation into disrepute.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe