Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane’s aspiration of becoming the Mpumalanga ANC leader was dealt yet another blow after her chief lobbyist, Ngrayi Ngwenya failed to convince the High Court in Pretoria to set aside his suspension.
Ngwenya is chairperson of the previously influential Ehlanzeni region.
The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) suspended Ngwenya in July following allegations that he and fellow Ehlanzeni regional executive committee (REC) member, Phindile Nkuna, assaulted the party’s acting Mpumalanga provincial secretary, Lindiwe Ntshalintshali.
Ngwenya, a key player in the campaign to elect Mtshweni-Tsipane as the party’s chairperson in December, is also scheduled to appear in the Tonga Magistrate’s Court next month on charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
He allegedly stabbed ANC member Faith Makumo at a party meeting in KaMhlushwa in June last year.
Ehlanzeni is the most influential region in the province but the NEC decided to disband it and another region, Bohlabela. It was critical in the campaign to elect Mtshweni-Tsipane.
Ntshalintshali sustained minor injuries in July after she was allegedly assaulted at the Mpumalanga ANC’s regional general council in Mbombela, where enraged members hurled chairs at her.
As acting secretary, Ntshalintshali – who is also executive committee member for culture, sport and recreation – was delegated to communicate the party’s NEC’s decision to disband the regions and to announce the names of a task team to replace the existing provincial executive committee (PEC).
The news was not welcomed by the PEC.
Ntshalintshali was rescued by her bodyguards as pandemonium unfolded and even the police did not escape the wrath of those who stood to lose power as a result of the disbandment.
Party sources said Ngwenya’s disciplinary hearing in connection with the incident would be held over two days this month at the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House, in Joburg.
Ngwenya yesterday told The Citizen he was appealing the judgment and that this was an internal party matter.
He is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, he was fined R1,000 and given a three-year suspended sentence for assaulting Economic Freedom Fighters Mpumalanga chairperson Collen Sedibe.
In June last year, he allegedly assaulted ANC branch member Steps Makamo.
ANC Youth League chairperson Gerson Nevari laid criminal charges against him in 2011 after he allegedly assaulted him, but later dropped the charges.