The ANC has extended embattled Durban mayor Zandile Gumede’s leave of absence, avoiding a potential clash with her supporters when she makes a court appearance on Thursday on corruption charges.
On Monday, the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) decided to defer the decision on Gumede fate and that of eThekwini deputy speaker Mondli Mthembu to a meeting which will be held at the weekend. The meeting will also decide what action to take against Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba, who is also on enforced leave.
Mthembu was arrested alongside Gumede while Mahlaba was arrested for the 2016 murder of ANC Youth League eMalahleni region official Wandile Ngubeni in Newcastle. Mahlaba is also out on bail and was placed on leave by the ANC at the same time as Gumede.
Mdumiseni Ntuli, the ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary, said the decision to hold back taking a final decision on Gumede had been taken to allow the ANC team investigating her matter to include her response in its final report.
In the meantime, Gumede’s leave of absence — which was imposed by the ANC in June after her arrest in May on corruption charges stemming from an irregular water removal tender for R208-million — would continue, Ntuli said.
“The PEC decided the leave of absence must be extended to allow more time for the affected comrades and the organisation to finalise its work on the matter. The PEC is determined to remain considerate while steadfast in defending the values of our movement,” he said.
Ntuli downplayed reports that the PEC was at an impasse over the Gumede issue, with her supporters wanting her reinstated and her critics demanding that she be permanently removed from office.
Describing the meeting as ‘robust’, Ntuli said the decision to extend the leave was made not to avoid a backlash, but to allow the PEC to consider her version of events.
Ntuli said the ANC would take action against Gumede’s supporters who had disrupted service delivery by blockading City Hall, demanding that she be reinstated. They would also press charges against ANC members at Mandeni and KwaDukuza who had disrupted both municipalities with protests over internal ANC issues.
Ntuli said a final decision on Gumede — and on deployees who had failed to perform in a number of ANC-run municipalities around the province — would be taken at the weekend.
He said that the regional task team appointed to replace the eThekwini regional executive committee was now functioning, despite earlier protests by branches which had rejected its composition.
The provincial working committee was now talking to disaffected branches to try and work out means of addressing their concerns, he said.