Supporters of axed eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede who have taken to the streets and disrupted report back meetings from senior party leaders in defiance of the decision to remove her will face action from the ANC’s provincial executive committee (PEC).
Provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli told City Press this week that those who were at odds with the decision were challenging the “centrality” of the leadership of the ANC.
“The ANC has been very concerned about some of the public statements and the behaviour that was displayed in the CBD and at the provincial office.
“We will definitely take action against comrades who acted in that way, particularly those who persisted even after the provincial working committee (PWC) had gone in person to explain the decisions that were taken. We believe that action must be taken against those involved because what happened subsequent to the PWC delegation meeting with the branches of eThekwini was completely unnecessary. At worst it undermined the reputation of the ANC and set to challenge the centrality of the PEC, which cannot be allowed.
“As members of the ANC, we joined the ANC voluntarily and in honouring that volunteerism we must submit ourselves to the authority of the leadership of the party,” he said.
This follows a tumultuous week in which the PEC announced the firing of the entire executive committees of both the eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities.
Members of the PWC were given the cold shoulder by ANC members of the eThekwini and Moses Mabhida (which Msunduzi falls under) regions this week.
Both political regional structures have been disbanded and are operating with task teams appointed by the PEC.
City Press has learnt that Gumede’s supporters are adamant that the PEC cannot appoint a new mayor without consulting the ANC national executive committee (NEC).
Sources close to Gumede have also argued that the PEC has found a “creative” way to get rid of her after failing to keep her out of the job using the charges of corruption against her.
“If she is not being targeted, then why have other excos in more troubled municipalities not been disbanded? In Richmond the municipality is under administration, but the exco is still in place. Because the magistrate said she can return to work they had to find another way to remove her,” one source said.
Ntuli said that the PEC did not need to consult the NEC but rather needed to “report to it” on the decision taken regarding the metro mayor, which it would do.
Frontrunners who have emerged to succeed Gumede include Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda and Economic Development MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube. The new mayor is expected to be announced by Thursday.
Ntuli said that the PEC would not bow to pressure from the ANC Women’s League to replace Gumede with another woman.
“It is not a question of whether this is a man or woman, but rather who, in the light of the challenges in the city, is available and will be able to take us forward.” Gumede would not be given any preferential treatment in terms of a new deployment amid rumours that she might be moved to the provincial legislature.
“At the moment comrades have been told to remain as councillors and there has been no discussion with anybody beyond that. None of them has come forward to the ANC to request to be considered for deployment outside of Pietermaritzburg or Durban.”
The provincial secretary has also been accused of having an interest in who emerges as the chairperson of eThekwini when that region – the biggest in the ANC country-wide – goes to an overdue conference later this year.
Ntuli dismissed the claims that he was creating the conditions for his preferred candidate to unseat Gumede.
“Personally, I have no interest in who leads the region. That must be the decision of ANC branches. It is immaterial how individual leaders of the ANC feel about who should be elected. The decisions we have taken are completely isolated from processes leading up to the conference. These comrades are not suspended from the party, they have been recalled from their current responsibilities. Anybody who seeks to suggest that their recall is intended to weaken their candidacy for purposes of the regional conference would be implying that branches of the ANC do not elect on the basis of ability to lead the ANC but on the basis of current station. I don’t think branches of the ANC see things like that.”