Durban - With just eight days left before the expiration of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede’s 30-day suspension, her future was still a mystery on Tuesday, with the ANC still keeping its cards close to its chest and Gumede keeping a low profile.
ANC spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the party had been engaging in processes to decide on the Gumede issue.
The party forced the mayor to take a month’s leave after being arrested and appearing in court on fraud and corruption charges relating to a R208million waste-collection tender.
Simelane-Zulu said the processes enagaged in included the provincial executive committee (PEC) briefing the provincial working committee, and making recommendations before a final decision on Gumede’s future is taken.
The municipality is in turmoil after Thursday’s full council meeting, at which it is thought an attempt was made on acting mayor Fawzia Peer’s life after she drank bottled water suspected to have been laced with paraffin.
Peer said she was still waiting for the laboratory results on Tuesday afternoon.
“I have not received the results. The information I received is that the lab is still working on testing the water.
“I did not expect the results would take so long. The bottle was sent to the lab on Thursday, so I expected to have the results by now,” she said, adding that she was also waiting for video footage from the council chamber to be made available to her.
After drinking bottled water placed in front of her during the meeting, Peer complained of feeling dizzy and experienced a burning sensation in her mouth and throat. Shortly thereafter she started vomiting and was rushed to hospital by her bodyguards.
Other members of the council said they were also eagerly awaiting the lab results, because they had been shocked by the incident.
On the same day, city manager Sipho Nzuza was tackled by ANC councillors loyal to Gumede over a report by the Daily News’s sister paper, The Mercury, that he had turned State witness against the beleaguered mayor. Nzuza’s bodyguards had to intervene to protect him.
Mluleki Ndobe, KwaZulu-Natal Legis- lature’s deputy speaker and ANC PEC member deployed as the regional co- ordinator in eThekwini, said these were “difficult times” for the municipality.
Ndobe said he had received a report on Peer’s incident and was also awaiting laboratory results of the test conducted on the bottled water. “We will only act and respond comprehensively on the incident once we have the results,” he said.
Speaking on the Nzuza incident, Ndobe said based on the report he had received, there was a heated argument and an exchange of words, and following the incident members of the council had been advised to remain calm.
“We have reminded the councillors that if they are not happy with certain processes, they should follow the proper channels to raise their concerns. We have up until now not received any formal report on the issues they had,” he said.
Ndobe said while they are awaiting guidance from the ANC about Gumde’s future, he appealed to members to refrain from disturbing the functions of the municipality.