ANC fires Zandile Gumede as eThekwini mayor, KZN spokesperson confirms

eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede during her inauguration at the Durban City Hall on August 23, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images

eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede during her inauguration at the Durban City Hall on August 23, 2016 in Durban, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images

The embattled outgoing mayor has claimed the truth would be revealed in time about corruption-related charges against her.

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu has confirmed that Zandile Gumede has officially been fired as the mayor. Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo will also be asked to step aside in one of many sweeping leadership changes it is making in the province.

Gumede was filmed coming out of a meeting with the ANC’s KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) earlier on Tuesday, where she refused to comment on the meeting’s outcome.

eNCA reported on Monday night that the ANC’s KZN PEC had taken a decision to axe Gumede.

This was confirmed by sources who attended a two-day special PEC meeting in Durban.

She was arrested earlier this year on charges of fraud and corruption.

The nine other accused are eThekwini municipality deputy head of strategy and new development Robert Abbu, 62, supply chain manager Sandile Ngcobo, 41, Hlenga Sibisi, 43, Mzwandile Dludla, 24, Sinthamone Ponnan, 55, Sithulele Mkhize, 38, Bongani Dlomo, 53, and 61-year-old Prabagaram Pariah.

The allegations of fraud and corruption are related to a 2016 R208m Durban Solid Waste tender where service providers were allegedly paid huge amounts of money even though they did not render any service.

The matter is expected to return to court on January 15.

The PEC spent weeks debating Gumede’s continued role as mayor. She will be redeployed elsewhere.

Based on a report presented it to it by a provincial working committee (PWC), the PEC acknowledged that the Msunduzi and eThekwini municipalities, where Njilo and Gumede were heads, “required urgent attention”.

“All ANC members serving as Exco members at eThekwini Municipality and Msunduzi Municipality should be redeployed with immediate effect,” provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said on Tuesday at a press briefing in Durban.

All vacancies would have to be filled within seven days, he said.

The PWC held week-long meetings with all municipalities in order to compile their report, Ntuli explained, following many complaints from citizens about service delivery in those areas.

“These concerns raised from issues such as water provisions, water infrastructure, refuse removal, and allegations pertaining to matters of fraud and corruption,” Ntuli said.

“The ANC made a commitment to listen to all our people.”

Some of the observations made by the PWC were:

– In certain municipalities, there were substantial challenges to raise revenue due to infrastructure;- Various municipal grants were not properly dispersed due to poor planning;- There was a sustained pattern of wrongdoing and certain unethical behaviour;- There was a inability to comply with the regulations suggested by the Auditor-General.

Ntuli added that the PEC believed the province was poised to influence the ANC as a national movement through who it chose as its leaders.

Gumede was placed on special leave by the party for 30 days in June, which had since been extended twice after the PEC failed to reach a decision by the first lapsed date.

News24 previously reported that the PWC had recommended she be recalled after it compiled a report into her fitness to hold office.

However, the PEC could not agree on what steps to take next over Gumede, who holds lots of influence in KwaZulu-Natal and is a known supporter of former president Jacob Zuma.

The ANC in the province was caught between a rock and a hard place, with regions threatening a revolt should the party not be “consistent” when deciding on the fate of several regional leaders, City Press reported.

(Edited by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting Charles Cilliers, News24 Wire)

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