The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal said on Tuesday that eThekwini Municipality deputy mayor Fawzia Peer would step into the role of mayor during embattled mayor Zandile Gumede’s 30 day leave period.
ANC KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli was briefing the media about the outcomes of the party’s provincial executive committee meeting (PEC), held over the weekend. He was speaking at the ANC KZN headquarters in Durban.
Ntuli reiterated it had been resolved that Gumede, senior ANC eThekwini councillor Mondli Mthembu and Newcastle mayor Dr. Ntuthuko Mahlaba would all be placed on leave for 30 days.
All three are facing serious criminal charges.
“It is the expectation of the ANC that whenever a comrade is arrested, besides the charges that are imposed on them, there is usually a cloud that engulfs the area where they are deployed,” said Ntuli.
He said that the “cloud” manifested in several ways, including conspiracy theories about their arrests and “the propagation of information that the arrests are the result of internal challenges within the ANC”.
The PEC had thus resolved that the “comrades” would step aside for 30 days while the party took up concerns relating to their arrests, he said.
The 30-day period was “reasonable” and “sufficient” for the ANC to acquire the information it wanted, he said.
“The ANC won’t wait until 30 days finishes and then come back and say ‘now it’s the end of 30 days’. The ANC will continue to brief its own structures and society about the work that it is undertaking in addressing the problems confronting the comrades,” he said.
Gumede and Mthembu are out on bail of R50 000 each and are facing fraud and racketeering charges relating to a multi-million rand Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender.
Mahlaba is out on bail of R20 000 and is facing charges that include conspiracy to commit murder, murder and attempted murder.
Gumede is also the chair of the ANC eThekwini region, the biggest in the country in terms of numbers. Ntuli confirmed that the regional executive committee had been dissolved on Tuesday morning and would now be run by a regional task team, which would be announced later on Tuesday afternoon.
As for Newcastle mayor Mahlaba, Ntuli said that the provincial working committee would be meeting with ANC structures in the area over the coming weekend to address “defiance” from the structures regarding Mahlaba’s stepping aside.
The mayor was not elected but was deployed by the party, he said.
“Any act of defiance, directly or indirectly, will have to be accounted for. When the leadership of the ANC is moving in a certain direction, we as members of the ANC have an obligation to abide by decisions. If there are deviations, the elected leadership will have to deal with deviations.”