Turmoil as axed Durban mayor Zandile Gumede withdraws her resignation

28 August 2019 - 20:21 By ZIMASA MATIWANE
Ousted eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.
Ousted eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Ousted eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has created a crisis for the ANC by holding on to the mayoral chains, despite a provincial executive committee decision instructing her to vacate office.

On Wednesday the inauguration of Mxolisi Kaunda as the new mayor was postponed after Gumede withdrew her resignation letter at the 11th hour, in clear defiance of the governing party's decision.

She had — according to ANC provincial leaders — submitted her resignation letter on Monday.

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Mzomuhle Dube, spokesperson for eThekwini branches which support Gumede, said the withdrawal of the resignation was discussed at a meeting on Tuesday.

“What became prominent is that [councillor] Mondli [Mthembu] and Gumede appealed the decision by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee to remove them to Luthuli House. They have not even seen the report that was used to axe them. In fact our lawyers had asked for it but it has not been given to them,” Dube said.

Both Mthembu and Gumede are charged with fraud over a R208m Durban Solid Waste tender.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said he was not aware that Gumede had withdrawn her resignation when asked for comment on Wednesday night.

Asked if Gumede’s defiance of the provincial structure was not a sign of ill-discipline, Magashule said it would depend on the details that led to her taking the decision.

Gumede and Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo resigned earlier this week after the PEC decided to axe them last week.

The PEC used a government report that revealed that service delivery had declined under Gumede’s watch in eThekwini. The report also revealed a spike in service delivery related protests in the area.

In addition, Gumede and Mthembu are facing corruption charges. They are accused of playing a major role in influencing the appointment of service providers for a R208m Durban Solid Waste tender awarded in 2016 — in which 62 other councillors have also been implicated. The councillors have not been named. 

Dube said Gumede’s decision to rescind her resignation was informed by her pending appeal case submitted to Luthuli House.

“Luthuli House has not gotten back to her. She then cannot resign without the ANC getting back to her about the appeal. That is how the decision came about,” said Dube.

Attempts to reach Gumede failed on Wednesday night.

None of the ANC provincial leaders were available for comment.