Durban - Supporters of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede intend to challenge her suspension in court.
Lawyers were on Friday drafting a letter to inform the ANC of their intention, said spokesperson for her supporters, Mzomuhle Dube.
Dube said the intention was to get the court to force the provincial executive committee (PEC) to lift her extended leave of absence.
He told Independent Media yesterday that supporters spent the week consulting lawyers, who then yesterday wrote a letter informing the PEC of the intention to take the matter to court.
At the beginning of last month, the PEC forced Gumede to take a 30-day leave of absence while investigating her arrest for fraud and corruption in connection with the city council’s solid waste tender.
The party later extended her suspension until next month.
“The latest that the matter will be taken to court is Tuesday.
“We are sending a letter to the NEC and PEC to say we are going to litigate because we have exhausted all possibilities of engagement, and we are now approaching the court to intervene in the matter,” said Dube.
Dube said ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule came to Durban last week on a fact-finding mission on the Gumede matter, apparently with the aim of tabling it at an ordinary meeting of the NEC this weekend.
Independent Media has been reliably told that another NEC member, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, this week held a closed-door meeting with ANC councillors, including Gumede, at Durban’s City Hall.
Dube said he hoped the NEC would discuss Gumede’s matter and decide in her favour.
He said it should have been the court, and not the PEC, which issued an order that the mayor be suspended.
“She had all the rights to get this matter defined constitutionally.
“She should have been arrested for going back to work soon after being released on bail if that was legally wrong,” said Dube.
“They don’t have a jurisdiction of talking about issues that are before the court.”
Dube said only the decision of the NEC would stop the matter from going to court.
“We had handed over the matter to the NEC and since it is going to meet over the weekend we think it might come up with something concrete,” said Dube.
Gumede’s supporters have engaged in chaotic protest marches in Durban demanding that she should be allowed back to work.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the PEC had not yet received a letter from the supporters’ lawyers.
“If her people feel that this is the route they want to take, they are welcome because we live in a constitutional country,” said Simelane-Zulu.
She said Gumede’s matter would be finalised by the PEC next month.
“The PEC is sitting during the first weekend of August, and it would receive a report from a team that was instructed to investigate, and it is only then that the PEC would decide on how to continue with the matter,” she said.
She could not say whether Gumede’s supporters would face consequences for taking the party to court.
She also said she did not know whether the NEC would discuss the matter this weekend.
Calls to ANC national spokespersons Pule Mabe and Dakota Legoete went unanswered.
Gumede could not be contacted for comment at the time of going to press.