/ 24 February 2024

Gwede Mantashe defends corruption accused Zandile Gumede’s ANC campaigning

ANC National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe during a door-to-door campaign in KwaMashu ahead of the party's manifesto launch on Saturday, 24 February. Photo: @ANCKZN

The ANC is giving a get out of jail free card to its members implicated in graft ahead of this year’s elections, provided that they aid the party during its campaign. 

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian in Durban, ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma said the party would back those who felt that corruption-accused former Limpopo leader Danny Msiza should be brought back to the fold, as long as there was merit to their case. 

Duma said there must never be a “comrade who must be prejudiced”. 

“There must be no comrade that must suffer from something that has come to an end and something which must be cleared. I believe in fairness and I believe that in almost every case, you must go zoom deeper on the merit of the case, that is what we should do,” he said. 

The ANC has been criticised for its inconsistency in applying its step-aside resolution following the recent addition of Zandile Gumede — another senior party office accused of corruption — to the party’s campaign machinery. 

“Fortunately enough, comrades from Limpopo reside in the national executive committee as ex officio and you have other comrades coming from Limpopo, they must just argue their case and if it’s a strong case, it must be supported,” Duma said.

Gumede’s reemergence in the ANC was also defended by party chairperson Gwede Mantashe, who told the M&G that she was still a member of the legislature, although under the step-aside rule, she was only a passive member and not given responsibilities.

“If Zandile is popular in eThekwini, we can’t say don’t campaign. Zandile has a following. She must tell her followers to vote for the ANC. That is what is important. Her case is a different matter that must be conducted by the ANC,” Mantashe said. 

Gumede, a former mayor of the KwaZulu-Natal metro, was forced to step aside from her position as ANC regional chairperson after her arrest in 2019 on fraud, corruption and racketeering charges relating to a R320 million Durban Solid Waste tender.

She is accused of personally receiving R2 881 350 in kickbacks while Durban mayor, for ensuring predetermined businesses benefited from city waste contracts. The state has further accused the ANC eThekwini region of receiving a R100 000 “donation” from three of Gumede’s co-accused. The trial is ongoing.     

Msiza was forced to step aside after being formally indicted by the National Prosecuting Authority in March 2021 for allegedly being among the people accused of looting nearly R2.3 billion from mostly poor rural people in Limpopo through the failed VBS Mutual Bank.

They were charged with 188 counts of racketeering, corruption, fraud, theft, and money laundering.

Gumede’s comeback was partly due to the growing support of former ANC president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party. The ANC is hoping to use Gumede’s appeal in the province to help counter the growth of the party, which already showed during the recent by-election in Zululand that it could pull supporters from the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Duma said although the ANC believed in natural justice “the issue of step-aside is also periodic”. He said Gumede had spent “enough time” under the resolution and it was about time she was brought back to the organisation to continue with her duties.

“She has served the time and she has written the letter to the secretary general. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, there is no exclusivity. We are saying that she’s a comrade and she must be utilised in campaigning for the ANC because she’s an activist,” Duma said, adding that the party is not oblivious to the implications of the decision on party members in a similar position.

“We understand that other comrades might feel prejudice in the process. Comrade Zandile stepped aside almost four years ago, it means that her time has come to an end and something ought to be done. We are saying natural causes must take place.”  

An insider close to the Gumede camp said she had initially sent a letter to provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo seeking clarity on her role in the elections. She later sent another letter to Mbalula.

The step-aside resolution was adopted by the party at its 2017 Nasrec elective conference. 

During an interview with the M&G last month, Gumede said the ANC had pronounced “a long time ago” that she should come back and work for it, adding that she was popular among its followers.

“What is nice in the ANC is that you do what the leaders tell you. When they told me what to do [campaign for the ANC], I made sure that I did that,” Gumede said. 

“When they say I must take part again, I don’t have a problem and that’s why I am here working again.”