'The ANC must rethink' step-aside rule - Zandile Gumede claims victory as ANC to discuss her election

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  • Minutes after being re-elected as ANC eThekwini chairperson, Zandile Gumede called for the review of the party's step-aside rule.
  • Gumede defeated ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa's ally, Thabani Nyawose.
  • Gumede's second in command, Themba Ntuli, said the other newly elected leaders were ready to take up the leadership responsibilities while Gumede dealt with her court case.

Newly elected ANC eThekwini chairperson Zandile Gumede said she believed the party had to repeal its step-aside policy.

The policy states that party leaders who have been criminally charged should step aside from their positions until their cases have been finalised.

Gumede claimed a major political victory on Sunday evening when she defeated ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa's ally, Thabani Nyawose.

In the closely contested leadership race, Gumede received 210 votes, compared to Nyawose's 181 votes.

Following her win, she conceded that while she may not be objective about the party's step-aside policy because it affected her, she would like to see the rule being repealed.

"I think the ANC must rethink it. It's painful," she said.

Gumede said the charges against her were unclear and she hoped for the speedy resolution of her case. 

"The case must be over so I can go back to helping our communities," she said shortly after her win.

Gumede and 20 other accused have been charged with 2 786 counts of fraud and corruption in connection with an irregular 2017 Durban Solid Waste tender valued at more than R430 million.

READ | JUST IN | Zandile Gumede defeats Thabani Nyawose in race for ANC eThekwini chair

Gumede's second in command, Themba Ntuli, said the fact that the newly elected regional chairperson would be forced to step aside would not have too much of an effect on the new administration's work.

He said the ANC was an organisation whose leadership did its work collectively. According to him, the party will continue in that manner with the three available members until Gumede and treasurer Nomthandazo Shabalala, who also faces charges along with Gumede, are afforded the opportunity to resume their duties.

The elected eThekwini leaders pledged to enforce unity among the two ANC factions that contested for the top five positions.

"Our role, as the leadership, is to embrace everyone and to adopt a stance of cordial relationship," said Musa Nciki, who was elected regional secretary.

"We respect our opponents and require that they also, going forward, respect and work hand in hand with us," said Ncika.

While the regional leaders were coy in responding to questions about the election of someone who had been forced to step aside due to criminal charges, national ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party's national structure would be deliberating on the matter.

"The ANC's national working committee will be meeting on Monday and will be discussing this very issue. There will also be another extended meeting that shall discuss this matter, and we will get back to the public about the outcomes," said Mabe.

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