ANC indecision buys Zandile Gumede another week of 'special leave'

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Suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is seen during a media briefing. (Jabulani Langa, Gallo Images, Daily Sun, file)
Suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is seen during a media briefing. (Jabulani Langa, Gallo Images, Daily Sun, file)

It will be at least a week until the ANC executive heads back to the drawing board to deliberate on the fate of suspended eThekwini Metro mayor Zandile Gumede.

"Essentially, the extension for leave of absence has been granted by the PEC to give us time to go back to the meeting and finalise all these issues. It is merely an extension of seven days or so," said the party's KZN provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli on Tuesday.

He was speaking following a two-day PEC meeting, where a report from the provincial working committee (PWC) on the Gumede matter was handed over.

Ntuli declined to give details of the report, despite journalists pushing him to admit that service delivery in the city was being compromised as the political stalemate continued.

He maintained that the City would continue service delivery, despite Gumede's absence.

"It should not be an extension that should be undermining service delivery. We have an acting mayor in place and she has the full authority to run the City. She is working together with comrades who are with her in council to ensure the City meets its obligations."

Gumede was forced to take "special leave" by the PEC, led by chairperson Sihle Zikalala, after her arrest - and subsequent release on R50 000 bail - on charges of fraud and corruption related to a R208m Durban Solid Waste tender.

Her suspension was upheld in July, which led to her supporters protesting on the streets of Durban, clashing with police.

'Not contaminated with your presence'

Gumede, a strong political figure in the province with ties to former president Jacob Zuma, has been blamed for the City's poor service delivery record.

Ntuli was firm on those who disrupted city services marching for Gumede.

"All those comrades who led public protests and disrupted services in the city, this even after the PEC and PWC had several engagements with the comrades, they must be charged."

Ntuli said the PEC had communicated to Gumede that it was not fitting for her to hold public office.

"We said it is inappropriate for you under the circumstances to not only remain the face of the ANC, but the face of the people of eThekwini. Especially when you are caught up in such a difficult and compromising environment as being in conflict with the law."

He said they had told her to stay on leave so the city did not suffer.

"We said to her, you have to be out of your responsibilities for a certain period of time, so the City's work is not contaminated with your presence because of the charges you are confronted with. We acted in that way because we wanted to send a clear message that nobody amongst us is more important than the responsibility of the ANC to lead the people of eThekwini."

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