Delays in Zandile Gumede corruption prosecution helped her case with ANC integrity commission
Court delays that have plagued the corruption case against former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede boosted her chances of reinstatement when she appeared in front of the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal integrity commission.
Gumede’s mayoral powers and duties at eThekwini municipality, which are delegated to her by the municipal council or executive committee, also convinced the integrity commission that keeping her out of her legislature duties and ANC responsibilities would be unjust.
Provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli explained that the commission's report, which cleared Gumede, said currently there was no basis to recommend that she must be recalled or step aside.
The commission, he added, is dealing with her matter as it evolves and if information and dynamics change in her case, the commission will react to new information.
The commission also cleared two other eThekwini councillors, Zoe Shabalala and Thembelihle De Lange. The trio face allegations relating to the same Durban Solid Waste tender scandal and are out on bail.
While Ntuli is not part of the commission tasked to make a decision on Gumede’s fate, he said based on its report, he can deduce that she was able to plead her case.
“Since the arrest over a year ago, there have been no specific charges to which she can plead guilty or not guilty. The second argument was that these are councillors, not officials of the municipality. The arrests have to do with tenders and those are not within their competences, that is the work of the officials,” said Ntuli.
The provincial secretary said another argument put forward by the trio was that there is no evidence before the court that says the officials may have acted wrongfully on the basis of their instructions as political leaders.
“So they are saying to the integrity commission: why do you say there is a cloud hanging over our heads, when there is not even an implied statement in court where an official says they acted wrongly in awarding of tenders because comrade Zandile exerted undue pressure on them? The sooner there is clarity of how we were involved in this alleged corruption, the better we can be able to account,” Ntuli added.
Gumede was asked by the party to step aside from her job at the legislature and from political activity until she appears before and is cleared by the integrity commission.
She is out on R50,000 bail, facing charges ranging from money laundering to corruption and racketeering.
However, based on the recommendations of the integrity commission, the provincial executive committee decided on Monday that she should be reinstated to legislature duties and be active in ANC programmes.
“All affected comrades deny the broad and general charges levelled against them, and have further indicated that they intend to plead not guilty on the actual and specific charges, once they have been served with the indictment, if the state persists with its case against them,” said Ntuli.
“Comrade Zandile was arrested more that year a half ago but the case is permanently postponed by the state, citing more investigation being done. Again, no indictment is served on her.”
Gumede appeared in the Durban commercial crimes court last week but after numerous postponements, her corruption case was further postponed until February 24 for the state to get its house in order.