Durban – Outspoken Eastern Cape traditional leader iNkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana has blamed party politics for his precautionary suspension as House of Traditional Leaders chairperson amid allegations he violated Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Nonkonyana made the statement as the ANC in the province has yet to decide whether or not to haul him before a disciplinary committee.

This after MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Xolile Nqatha slapped the outspoken Nonkonyana with precautionary suspension on Thursday and appointed his deputy Langa Mavuso to act in his absence.

His suspension came after he was quoted as saying it was imperative for close relatives to provide a dignified farewell in the form of a funeral and family rituals.

Nokonyama told Independent Media that his suspension was part of a “dirty political conspiracy”.

“I was very disappointed and I am almost in tears for being accused of something I did not do. But I have been encouraged by words from all over the country, and from overseas,” said Nonkonyana.

But Eastern Cape Cogta spokesperson Mamkeli Ngam said the suspension was based on a report from the Alfred Nzo District Municipality where Nonkonyana attended a funeral.

Ngam said Nonkonyana was part of a meeting on March 28 where members of the bereaved family were told about regulations on funerals.

“According to the report, Nkosi Nonkonyana said since the deceased was the senior member of the family, the body must arrive a night before and as a result there was night vigil.

“All those issues combined and others violated the regulations governing the national lockdown on Covid-19,” Ngam said.

However, Nonkoyana denied acting against the regulations.

“I don’t know of any such utterances as I don’t know the village and the funeral they are talking about,” he said.

“I replied to the MEC and the premier (Oscar Mabuyane) saying that there is nothing of such, and that it is a dirty political conspiracy.”

Nonkonyana, who is an ANC member, challenged anyone who had evidence against him to lay charges against him with the police.

“There is party politics and the traditional politics added, so there is such a dimension. I have not been told who came up with these allegations, but I told them that if I have violated the law, someone should have gone to the police station, but not even one has done that, and I have not been charged,” said Nonkonyana.

Provincial spokesperson Gift Ngqondi said the ANC has not taken action against Nonkonyana because his suspension was government related. “He is not sent to the House of Traditional Leaders by the ANC. He is accountable to Contralesa and hence the MEC issued a statement.”

Meanwhile, he said the ANC’s “PEC (provincial executive council) needs to get a report from the provincial secretary” before deciding on action with regards to Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, who was suspended for a month and had her salary docked for flouting the lockdown regulations.

This week she paid a R1000 admission of guilt fine in court.

Meanwhile, the ANC in the Eastern Cape has previously undertaken to take disciplinary action against two Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality councillors, Morris Ngabase and Vukile Dyele, for allegedly illegally issuing permits to taxi drivers and holding public gatherings.

Political Bureau

By Bongani Hans and Mayibongwe Maqhina