Cele's allies protect his turf

Bheki Cele has complained about being abandoned by the ANC. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Bheki Cele has complained about being abandoned by the ANC. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

This follows talk that the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal might nominate him for the party’s national executive committee, which will be elected at the Mangaung conference in December.

At the party’s provincial conference in Newcastle last week, some regional chairpersons organised a meeting at which Cele was approached to avail himself for the provincial executive committee or the ANC’s national executive committee.

Cele said this week that he had attended the meeting but declined to be nominated. He said he would not consider a position in the ANC until he had exhausted all the processes relating to the inquiry.

“I did meet with ANC members who wanted me to be included in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee,” said Cele. “I declined because any political discussion at this time for me is premature. I am still waiting for the outcome of the inquiry and will only decide then what to do.

I love my job
“Naturally, we hope things will go well. My wish is that I go back to work soon, because I love my job. The police have said to me they missed me and I miss them too.”

The inquiry has completed its work and its chairperson, Judge Jake Moloi, is expected to deliver a report to President Jacob Zuma soon.

Zuma established the inquiry into Cele’s fitness to hold office after the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, found him guilty of misconduct and maladministration relating to two multimillion-rand lease deals
for police buildings that were awarded to businessperson Roux Shabangu.

Cele has denied the allegations.

It is understood that Cele feels aggrieved by the way Zuma has treated him. At the meeting he reportedly complained bitterly about the lack of moral support from ANC structures and leaders since his suspension as police commissioner.
According to three regional chairpersons, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Cele felt the ANC had deserted him in his hour of need.

“He was totally aggrieved at the way he was generally treated by the movement and its leadership,” one said. “He complained that nobody was giving him moral support since he was suspended.

“He also complained that there was not even a formal structure of the ANC or leadership that went with him to the inquiry. He said we were not caring, as claimed.”

Asked about what had transpired at the meeting, Cele downplayed talk about his unhappiness and said he had only responded to questions about whether he had been supported during his suspension.

“On the issue of moral support, I was asked by Reverend [Khoza] Mgojo if I was getting any support from [ANC regional leaders]. He believed they were not giving me enough moral support since I was suspended, including when I appeared before the inquiry.”
One regional leader said Cele was popular in KwaZulu-Natal and, should Zuma fire him after the inquiry or he be forced to resign, the party would include him in the highest provincial structure because the ANC constitution allowed at least three additional members to be added to it.

Cele’s position as national police commissioner rules him out of any role in politics, but he would be eligible if he was fired or decided to resign from the post.

Unequalled popularity
He was on the ANC’s provincial executive committee and an MEC when Zuma appointed him as national police commissioner in July 2009, positions which he then had to give up.

“His popularity in the province is unequalled,” said a regional leader.

“We wanted him to be in the provincial executive committee but he declined, saying that he wants to exhaust all the processes of the inquiry. He is a well-known activist in KwaZulu-Natal. He received the biggest applause at the provincial conference, second only to that of the president. He’s not an ordinary person. If there’s a negative outcome and he is fired, we will co-opt him into the provincial executive committee, because this will give him an opportunity to possibly work in the legislature or Parliament.”

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said Cele’s role in KwaZulu-Natal politics was not discussed at the Newcastle conference and he was unaware of a meeting between Cele and regional leaders.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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