/ 29 September 2008

Gauteng Premier Shilowa resigns

Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa has resigned. He told reporters on Monday that he had informed provincial party leadership of this in the morning.

Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa has resigned.

He told reporters on Monday afternoon that he informed the provincial party leadership in the morning of his intention to announce his resignation.

”I am resigning due to my convictions that while the African National Congress [ANC] has the right to recall any of its deployed cadres, the decision needs to be based on solid facts, be fair and just.

”I also did not feel that I will be able to, with conviction, publicly explain or defend the [ANC] national executive committee’s decision on comrade Thabo Mbeki,” Shilowa told reporters in Johannesburg.

He denied that he had been ”pushed” to resign but said he was doing it out of principle.

”It is a known fact that I hold strong views on the manner of his dismissal, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous,” Shilowa said, referring to the ANC national executive committee decision to remove Mbeki from office.

”I acknowledge and respect the ANC’s rights to recall any of its deployed cadres. I am, however, of the view that there was no cogent reason for doing so.”

Shilowa denied rumours that he was starting or would be part of a new political party.

”I know of no group who is starting another new party. I cannot be party to something I do not know,” Shilowa said.

The ANC said that Shilowa’s resignation was his own decision.

”His resignation is entirely his own and the ANC thanks him for his contribution throughout the years,” said spokesperson Nkenke Kekana.

The ANC acknowledged the important role he played in leading and stabilising the provincial government of Gauteng for the last 10 years and had also noted his intention to serve until the end of October 2008, Kekana said.

However, the provincial executive committee would consider this on Wednesday and decide what to do.

Earlier, Shilowa’s spokesperson also said Shilowa has no plans to be part of a rumoured new political party.

”He [Shilowa] has denied that so many times. How many times should he deny that? He is still a member of the ANC,” said his spokesperson, Simon Zwane.

This comes after the ANC provincial leadership reportedly reprimanded him over a weekend meeting after he criticised Judge Chris Nicholson’s ruling and the move to oust Mbeki as president.

The Star reported on Monday that Shilowa had been gagged by the ANC.

”I don’t know. I also read it but I really do not know what they are talking about,” said Zwane.

Newly elected deputy president Baleka Mbete has said disgruntled party members who plan to start their own movement were wasting their energy.

Shilowa said last week, in an interview with the Mail & Guardian, that Nicholson’s judgement had ”no basis in law”.

”Nicholson said things that aren’t based on anything factual … I have no difficulty with him having an opinion, but you can’t elevate an opinion to a fact.

”He produced no evidence and tested no evidence,” said Shilowa.

No immediate response
Meanwhile, the ANC on Monday would not respond immediately to speculation of a shake-up in provincial politics, which will reportedly see a new premier in the Free State and a changed cabinet in Limpopo.

”The ANC has noted news reports suggesting a major shake-up in provincial politics,” said spokesperson Brian Sokhutu.

”We will respond fully after being officially briefed on the situation in the provinces mentioned,” he said.

The party’s national working committee was meeting on Monday and discussing a ”range of issues” affecting the ANC.

This year Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela and Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool were sacked.

Provincial ANC spokesperson in the Free State Teboho Sikisi said an ANC delegation is expected to ask Premier Beatrice Marshoff to resign on Monday. Sikisi confirmed that Marshoff’s resignation was discussed when the provincial executive committee (PEC) met on Friday.

”The delegation will discuss the decision with her on Monday evening.”

She is due to return from the United States later on Monday.

The Free State ANC decided that she must go during the party’s provincial conference earlier this year. It was then said the new provincial leadership would have to decide on the when and how.

Neither a spokesperson for the ANC in Limpopo nor Premier Sello Moloto’s office were immediately available for comment. Moloto was replaced as provincial leader by Cassel Mathale at its most recent conference. Business Day reported that the cabinet there would be reshuffled.

Last year Moloto came under fire from the ANC Youth League. In a statement it accused him of insulting them and saying they had lost confidence in him. He was also perceived to be aligned with former president Mbeki, which irked supporters of ANC president Jacob Zuma. — Sapa