ANC Eastern Cape heavyweight and contender for provincial secretary Teris Ntutu has vowed to fight against the order of suspension issued against him by the provincial working committee (PWC).
This comes after Lulama Ngcukayitobi, the outgoing provincial secretary who Ntutu will be running against, sent him a letter stating that the PWC had resolved that he step aside from his position as Amathole regional secretary after corruption charges against him were reinstated. This was the second correspondence sent by Ngcukayitobi.
In the letter, dated 23 February, the provincial secretary said that he had communicated with Ntutu on 8 February that he should step aside after an indictment was issued against him in a criminal case by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
After Ntutu refused to step aside, Ngcukayitobi said a report on the matter had been presented to the PWC, which resolved to suspend him.
The terms and conditions were that he submit a monthly update about the case, not speak on behalf of the ANC during the suspension, and subject himself to the provincial integrity committee should it invite him to appear before it. Ntutu was also ordered to immediately cease his duties, both as the regional secretary and a member of the regional executive committee of Amathole.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, Ntutu said that he believed that the court matter against him would be resolved on 6 April.
“This is a part of the fight-back strategy … If I allow this to happen, I’ll be sending the wrong message that anybody can be marginalised and keep quiet,” he said.
“It’s very important for me to fight and win it for our people, for members of the ANC. This will bring confidence that we must not use other elements to settle our own internal organisational processes,” Ntutu continued. “The message to our members to focus. The branch general meetings are proceeding quite well, hence this action. The incumbent leadership is in panic mode.”
Ntutu has filed an application to prevent the NPA from issuing a summons against him.
He faces charges of fraud and corruption related to a R10-million black plastic bag tender the Mnquma municipality had awarded to late Eastern Cape businessman and ANC youth league member Sive Nombembe’s company.
Although Ntutu remains defiant, he is unlikely to win against the order. Suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule attempted to fight a similar step-aside order in the courts and failed. The Supreme Court of Appeal recently threw out Magashule’s attempt to have the step aside resolution found unlawful and unconstitutional.
NPA regional spokesperson Luxolo Tyali confirmed to the M&G that the case against Ntutu and his co-accused had been reinstated on 5 October. Ntutu had filed and won an application in August 2021 to have the case struck off the roll temporarily, after it had been delayed on several occasions.
“As soon as we reinstated the charges they made a legal bid to be struck off the roll again. They were challenging the process that was followed in serving them with the summons. If the court decides to continue, then the court will decide on the day the case should start,” Tyali said.
In his recent court bid, Ntutu said the state was in such a hurry to reinstate charges against him that it failed to apply its mind to the August judgment. He added that the manner in which charges were formulated against him was vague, confusing and contradictory.
Ntutu said he suffered further prejudice and emotional stress as a businessman, father, two minor children and a husband.
Ntutu, who was first arrested in May 2017, said the case also had a direct effect on his ability to provide financially for his family, adding that he had previously lost his salary as ANC regional secretary after he was ordered to step aside.
“It is unimaginable that a person in the position of a director of public prosecutions, the head of an office, would have authorised the reinstatement of the prosecution after considering the judgment …” he argued in his founding affidavit.
“As referred to these mistakes, discrepancies and failures to comply with the judgement renders the reinstatement of the prosecution invalid. It further renders the summons and the return of service invalid.”