eThekwini ANC chairperson Zandile Gumede has taken an enforced 30-day leave of absence following the governing party’s decision that she should do so or face removal from office over her arrest in connection with a R208-million water removal tender scam.
The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC) has also disbanded the eThekwini regional executive committee (REC) over the scam, in which 62 councillors, some of them REC members, are also allegedly implicated.
The ANC is keeping mum about the decision, which was taken by its provincial working committee (PWC) last Tuesday and confirmed by the PEC on Friday, until after its two-day lekgotla is concluded on Monday evening.
However, Gumede confirmed that she would take leave in a video clip circulated on the governing party’s social media. In the video, she says that while she had not done anything wrong, she would take the leave of absence in accordance with the party’s decision.
Gumede had previously resisted stepping aside after being arrested along with ANC deputy regional secretary and eThekwini speaker Mondli Mthembu and a group of contractors and officials who allegedly scammed the city for R208-million for work that was never done.
In the clip Gumede said that she had not been asked to resign.
“After the resolution of the PEC…I am going to be taking a leave of absence,” she said. “I will never defy my leadership.”
“They did not ask me to step aside, they said I must take 30 days leave to ensure that I clear the air,” she said.
Gumede, who will appear in the Durban commercial crimes court again in August, is not the only senior ANC member in the province whose allegedly criminal conduct was discussed by the PEC.
In addition to Mthembu, Newcastle mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, is out on bail for the alleged murder of ANC Youth League official Wandile Ngobeni, while in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, several ANC councillors are standing trial for the killing of their comrades.
The PEC decided before the May 8 polls that all members charged with serious crimes should stand aside from public office until their matters were concluded in court. However, Mahlaba and others have thus far refused to do so, despite being given a deadline.
On Friday, provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala told the meeting that those who refused to stand aside would be recalled by the party and removed from office.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said that the party would comment on its decisions at the PEC and the lekgotla — including the Gumede issue — on Tuesday.