Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) North West secretary and the party’s legislature chief whip Keobakile “Papiki” Babuile will remain in his position for now – despite sitting in jail for murder – the party said on Tuesday.
Babuile was in jail last year when the party’s North West delegates elected him in absentia as secretary of the province. He was sentenced just prior to that week to 12 years in jail for murder and conspiracy to murder, after an intense two-month trial.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian in December, the party’s leadership insisted that nothing was amiss as Babuile is appealing his conviction. Until that process was exhausted, he was free to be a leader in the organisation, EFF leader Julius Malema told the M&G.
“We haven’t had an elective conference in the North West to re-elect someone,” EFF spokesperson Fana Mokoena said.
“That’s an internal matter that we are dealing with at the moment. It came up in our meeting yesterday.”
The party would make an announcement once a decision had been made.
The Citizen on Tuesday reported that Babuile was running the EFF’s North West affairs from his prison cell.
He was convicted last year, along with five others, for 12 years for the murder of the ANC’s regional secretary for the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district, David Chika.
A R1-million salary package
The newspaper reported that it had been reliably informed that Babuile, whose annual package was just over R1-million, received his December and January salaries while in jail.
The paper was also in possession of a letter dated January 14 from newly-elected EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee in which he reportedly instructed provincial party leader Alfred Motsi to keep the position of EFF chief whip of the legislature vacant.
The ANC’s North West secretary Dakota Legoete expressed shock on Tuesday at the report that Babuile was still in his position.
“As the ANC in the North West we are shocked by this development that a convicted murderer … is still on the party list of the EFF and is still earning as a public representative,” he said.
“This is contrary to the oath of office of any public representative … This clearly speaks to the character of the EFF because this is just immature, it’s clear-cut corruption and it cannot be encouraged in any law abiding society.”
Legoete said the ANC would raise the issue in the provincial legislature immediately after its opening. – Sapa, Staff Reporter