The KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC), Mike Mabuyakhulu, believes fraud and racketeering charges levelled against him are part of an orchestrated political campaign to exclude him from holding public office.
Appearing on Monday before the Durban Commercial Crime Court, Mabuyakhulu was applying to have the case against him struck from the roll in terms of Section 342a(1) of the Criminal Procedures Act.
In his affidavit, filed with the court on Monday, Mabuyakhulu cited unnecessary delays by the state in finalising the indictment, calling it “unreasonable and…causing me substantial prejudice”.
Mabuyakhulu said he could produce no proof of a conspiracy against him, but that he questioned the timing of being charged when the country was undergoing “significant political manoeuvring” that ultimately saw Jacob Zuma removed as state president and replaced by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, in February last year.
“The decision to place me before Court on 7 February 2018 was at a crucial stage during the political manoeuvring and, while I do not have actual evidence that it played a role, I do question the timing,” Mabuyakhulu said.
He is one of 16 accused – including seven companies, business people and a former high ranking public official – that allegedly defrauded the KwaZulu-Natal government of about R28-million between 2012 and 2013 by paying for the Netherlands-based North Sea Jazz Festival to take place in KwaZulu-Natal.
The festival never took place. Mabuyakhulu was economic development MEC at the time.
According to the indictment, the accused face in excess of 70 charges for corruption, fraud, theft and money-laundering. Mabuyakhulu faces five charges for his role, which allegedly saw him pocket R300 000.
In his application, Mabuyakhulu also asked that the “prosecution not to be resumed or instituted without the written instruction of the Director of Public Prosecutions”.
“I am unable to take up public office because of this case hanging over my head. This is particularly prejudicial right now because the National and Provincial elections will be held on 8 May 2019 and my name was on the ANC’s list of candidates for the provincial legislature.
"I have had to withdraw my name from this list pending the finalisation of these charges,” he noted.
Mabuyakhulu further said that according to the indictment, the matter has been under investigation since at least 21 August 2013 and that the state should have been ready to proceed at a much earlier stage.
He added he could not understand how a matter that was first investigated in August 2013 was only completed by February 2018.
“I verily believe that this matter was not continuously investigated and lay dormant for considerable periods. The timing of the decision to prosecute me is relevant in that it coincided with significant political changes in the leadership of the country.”
In fact, claimed Mabuyakhulu, when he was MEC, he instituted a civil claim against one of his co-accused – Soft Skills cc – to recoup monies paid to the company for its role in the failed hosting of the festival.
Mabuyakhulu will appear again in April. -ANA