Zandile Gumede supporters say she will go back to work on Thursday
Supporters of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede say they are looking forward to seeing her return to work on Thursday, despite the ANC's directive that she is still on a leave of absence.
The party’s provincial secretary general, Mdumiseni Ntuli, told the media on Wednesday that they had not completed their internal investigation into the charges Gumede faces and therefore did not expect her to return to office.
“She is a member of the ANC who knows that there is outstanding work that is being done by her organisation, and I think that because she was told by the organisation to take a leave of absence she will expect the ANC to tell her that they are done. So we do not expect to wake up tomorrow and hear that comrades have gone to work because, technically, the process of 30 days has lapsed,” Ntuli said.
Gumede is facing charges of fraud and corruption relating to a R208m Durban Solid Waste tender awarded in 2016, in which 62 other councillors have been implicated.
Last month, the party's provincial executive committee (PEC) resolved that Gumede should step down for 30 days to allow the governing party time to finalise its investigation.
Ntuli did not elaborate on whether Gumede had been told not to report for work on Thursday.
The mayor couldn't be reached for comment.
Despite Ntuli’s statement, supporters of Gumede said they would be hosting a night vigil on Wednesday in preparation for her return to work on Thursday, as her 30 days' leave of absence had lapsed.
“We have a clear programme, mam Gumede must go back to work tomorrow. Leave is not political, it is administrative. When you apply for leave it has a start and an end date, therefore you can’t go and make a political statement and hope that the administrative process will just process itself,” said Mzomuhle Dube.
Dube told TimesLIVE he spoke on behalf of the ANC branches who supported Gumede. They have staged several protests and marches to the ANC’s provincial office in support of the mayor.
Despite Ntuli saying Gumede had been involved in the process, Dube said Gumede had not been informed of the party’s decision or on the investigation as a whole.
“ I made the effort to solicit her comment and, believe you me, there has been no communication whatsoever on the statement. He (Ntuli) made the statement without communicating with Gumede. I called her and asked if the province had called her and she said no,” said Dube.