eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede remains in limbo as the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee on Tuesday officially extended her leave of absence.
City Press understands that the task team deployed to look into Gumede’s fitness to hold office had in its findings recommended that the mayor’s contract be terminated, but her backers in the PEC had overruled this, citing other municipalities whose mayors were also facing legal battles but not facing similar disciplinary action.
The extension announced by provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli at the ANC’s provincial headquarters in Durban on Tuesday was meant to give the PEC time to resolve outstanding issues with regards to all municipal issues before handing down a concrete ruling.
He said “the extension gives the PEC the time to go back into a meeting and finalise issues around municipalities over this weekend so we believe that it’s a mere extension of around seven days before we come back with the final decision.
“We believe that the extension should not undermine service delivery work since there is an acting mayor and the acting mayor [Fawzia Peer] has the full authority to run the city working together with the many comrades who are in council, and well as the officials employed by the municipality to ensure that the city meets its own obligations,” said Ntuli.
Ntuli’s announcement came after the provincial leadership received a report from the provincial working committee (PWC) on its findings on those who are facing court challenges.
He said the provincial leaders had decided “to allow more time for affected members to finalise their matters”.
During the press briefing, a fiery Ntuli said “the municipality must not be contaminated” by Gumede’s presence “at a time when she is in conflict with the law”.
Peer will continue to act as the mayor in eThekwini until a final decision is taken on Gumede, who is facing corruption charges in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
The ANC’s PWC was tasked with investigating Gumede’s fitness to hold office after she‚ along with 62 other eThekwini officials‚ were implicated in a R208-million tender scandal.
The PWC was also expected to determine the future of suspended murder-accused Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba.
However‚ in an interview with the SABC on Sunday‚ KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the report into Mahlaba had not yet been finalised.