/ 19 May 2021

KwaZulu-Natal provincial leaders to show Gumede the step-aside door

Former Ethekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede

ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli will meet former eThekwini chairperson Zandile Gumede today to give her her marching orders or face suspension. 

Gumede, a heavyweight in the ANC’s biggest region, has, until now, had a “get out of jail free” card from the provincial executive committee (PEC), which delayed the step-aside process against her. 

The provincial leaders submitted a list of 13 leaders who should step aside to the national executive committee (NEC) meeting earlier this month. Most of them are eThekwini municipality councillors facing corruption charges.

The PEC had failed to communicate to Gumede and others that they should step aside. 

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday, Ntuli said a two-day meeting with the affected parties was planned for Wednesday, 19 May, and Thursday.

“I am meeting her tomorrow with other comrades who are in the same situation as her to extend to them the decision of the NEC and its implications on themselves,” Ntuli said. 

He added that Gumede had not indicated to the PEC that she would not abide by the party’s decision that she step aside from her position as a member of the legislature. 

“The intention is to explain the decision of the NEC and to say to them you have got to write a letter and step aside because if you don’t do it, you will be forcing the PEC and the provincial working committee to suspend you. That is not what we want to see,” Ntuli said. 

Some of her supporters in the region have advised her against stepping aside. 

But Ntuli said: “We think that it’s possible to do what comrade Mike Mabuyakhulu has done, which is to step aside and allow the provincial secretary to spell out what then becomes the terms and conditions of stepping aside without any serious problems.” 

Mabuyakhulu, a strong ally of Ramaphosa, voluntarily stepped aside last month. 

In a move to thwart the step-aside resolution, ANC branches in the eThekwini region — Ward 28 and Ward 107 — nominated Gumede, who is out on bail for corruption charges related to a solid waste tender, to stand as its chairperson when its regional conference sits later in the year.

The branches also nominated other councillors, who have also been arrested in connection with the R400-million Durban Solid Waste tender, to stand for the regional executive committee. Their slate, headed by Gumede, includes the so-called radical economic transformation leaders, Thembo Ntuli, Musa Nciki and Nkosenhle Madlala, and councillor Zoe Shabalala.

This may pose a problem for the already fractured KZN provincial leadership, which is also facing backlash from supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, Gumede’s strongest ally. 

During this month’s NEC meeting the KwaZulu-Natal leadership expressed their concern about the step-aside resolution and the effect it would have during this year’s local government elections. 

Ntuli said they had left the decision of whether those affected by the step-aside resolution could run for party positions to the top officials. 

“There has not been clarity into whether comrades who are nominated who have stepped aside will be permitted in that period to be in a position of leadership. We have asked the deputy secretary general [Jesse Duarte] to look at the matter because we have those cases in the province and we want to guide the process in that way,” he said.