Embattled eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban - Opposition parties want suspended eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede fired.

This as the city obtained an interim interdict on Friday to bring law and order back to the city after Gumede’s supporters protested in Durban CBD on Thursday, bringing the city to a standstill.

Acting mayor, Fawzia Peer, confirmed on Friday she had ordered a crisis committee be put together to allow for an appropriate response to protests.

She warned there would be a zero tolerance approach towards anyone acting in breach of the interdict which is in place to stop protesters from protesting and intimidating residents and municipal employees.

On Friday provincial leader of the official opposition IFP, Velenkosini Hlabisa, challenged the ANC “to be bold”.

“Tell her to step down and if she doesn’t step down, fire her. They (ANC) have boldly said they want to fight corruption, they must demonstrate what they say. Are they walking the talk, will they take action?” asked Hlabisa.

He said the party should not allow their members to protect someone who is allegedly involved in corruption

He added that should the protests continue, “it will make the city ungovernable and the residents of eThekwini will be affected. They (protesters) will render the municipality dysfunctional and cause a lot of instability”.

Gumede’s suspension from office was extended by the ANC on Thursday as her initial 30-day suspension by the party ended. As a result, protesters gathered at the city hall, blocking streets and causing a major traffic gridlock in the city centre.

Gumede, along with senior ANC councillor Mondli Mthembu and supplier Craig Ponnan, were arrested by the Hawks in May on charges of fraud and corruption in connection with a R208 million tender in the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) department.

Both Hlabisa and IFP member of the executive, Mdu Nkosi, said because of the protest, service delivery was being compromised, with most municipal portfolio committee meetings being cancelled on Thursday and on Friday.

Nkosi questioned why Cogta (Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs) had not intervened.

It has also been alleged that ANC councillors took part in the protest and Nkosi said the municipal code of conduct forbade it.

“Will the Speaker take action against them? The code of conduct is clear that when you take part in a protest against the municipality, you have to be fired.”

He also questioned the role of the municipal manager and chief financial officer with regard to the DSW tender in the spotlight, because they were responsible for signing off and paying municipal contracts.

DA Caucus leader, Nicole Graham, said: “We’ve been clear from the start that the ANC need to fire Gumede, that’s the only way we can re-stabilise the city and begin to work against the corrupt forces and people.

“There were also lots of councillors involved in those protests, what will happen to them is important” said Graham.

The ANC held a press briefing on Friday morning, where ANC provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli, slammed the protesters.

“Chaos led by people wearing the colours of our glorious movement undermines the essence of what the ANC stands for,” said Ntuli.

He also said the impression there was internal conflict within the ANC was false, and that police had done an “outstanding job” in handling the protest.

Two weeks ago, Acting Mayor Peer was rushed to hospital on suspicion that a bottle of water she drank from at a council meeting had been poisoned.

On Friday she said it was “amazing” there were still no test results available, after the water was sent for testing. “We need to ask the Speaker why it has taken so long. They should tell us. It’s been worrying me,” she said.

Meanwhile, one of the protest leaders, Mzo Dube, questioned how the interdict put in place on Friday would be applied: “It confuses me, who does this interdict refer to? Members of some of the ANC branches are out there to air their views,” said Dube, adding that Gumede’s supporters would continue to demand that city manager Sipho Nzuza steps down. When called for comment, Gumede slammed the phone down.

Her spokesperson Nkosenhle Madlala later said the embattled mayor “was just as surprised as the rest of us” to hear through the media that the ANC provincial executive committee had asked her not to return to city.

Independent on Saturday