The Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) representative in the eThekwini Municipality executive committee on Wednesday said the governing party had decided to extend mayor Zandile Gumede’s leave because they were scared she would expose fellow comrades that were complicit in corruption.
Mduduzi Nkosi was speaking to African News Agency (ANA) following the announcement that Gumede’s 30 day leave period -- imposed by the provincial leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) -- would be extended until the finalisation of an investigation into the charges being faced by the mayor.
The ANC made the announcement on Wednesday morning.
“It is obvious they are scared of her. They are scared because she could mention other names involved in corruption. What I suspect is that they are scared that she will expose more people from the ANC who are involved in the same [tender fraud she has been accused of],” said Nkosi.
He called on Gumede to “come clean” and expose other senior ANC councillors, officials “and comrades” who may have been complicit in fraud and corruption.
“She must stop thinking she is protecting the organisation and let the people of eThekwini know what happened,” he said.
The extension of Gumede’s leave had a decidedly adverse effect on the metro’s service delivery, he said, as her supporters within city hall were simply not attending committee briefings, leading to the meetings being cancelled.
“The ANC must stop playing with the lives of the people of eThekwini. If they are failing to come to a decision, they must come clean and say they cannot take a decision.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s (Outa) KwaZulu-Natal manager, Tim Tyrrell, told ANA that extending Gumede’s leave was a “piecemeal approach” by the governing party.
“My main concern throughout all of this is that we have lost focus on the needs of the city. We have leadership who have a mandated responsibility to work tirelessly on the issues facing the city – of which there are many – and this is simply getting in the way of those officials who should be doing a decent job.”
Tyrrell said Outa was looking to “ventilate the issue” with the province’s member of the executive council for cooperative governance.
“Outa has already expressed itself to provincial authorities regarding their oversight position as far as the municipal council is concerned," he said.
“We remain frustrated that this thing is becoming drawn-out – perhaps because of divisions within the ANC. While I don’t want to speculate in the political space, it is clear the ANC is not an organisation that is speaking with a united voice on what is needed here.”
Gumede is currently out on R50 000 bail after being charged in mid-May for her alleged part in a R208-million Durban Solid Waste tender dating back to 2016.
It was alleged in court during her first appearance that the mayor influenced the awarding of tenders, ordered administration staff to break the law and organised a march against the city manager, Sipho Nzuza, calling for his axing after he refused to pay the companies for the irregular contracts they had obtained.
Gumede will appear again at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court in August, along with her co-accused.