Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has written to the party’s secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, asking him to review the step-aside policy which prevents her from chairing party meetings in the eThekwini region.
Gumede said her corruption trial has dragged on for four years and the continuous delays have prevented her from speaking publicly or from performing her duties in the ANC’s eThekwini region – one of the party’s biggest regions in the country.
The step-aside rule is an internal policy of the party, which requires members charged with corruption or other serious crimes to voluntarily “step aside” from participation in party and government activities, or face suspension.
The policy was adopted in 2017 at the party’s 54th national conference.
Gumede and 21 others are facing charges which include conspiracy to commit corruption, corruption, fraud, money laundering, racketeering, contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act, and of the Municipal Systems Act, in relation to a R300 million DSW contract.
Last year Gumede was appointed chairperson of the powerful eThekwini region and said she would continue to abide by the step-aside regulation, despite assuming her new leadership position.
Gumede was charged in May 2019 while she was still eThekwini mayor. She formally resigned as mayor in August 2019 after being recalled by the ANC and she was replaced by Mxolisi Kaunda.
In 2020, the ANC appointed Gumede as a member of the KZN provincial legislature.
She told “The Mercury” that the trial had dragged on for four years and with a crucial national general election next year, she could not chair any meetings until given the all clear by Mbalula.
Gumede said she was campaigning freely for the party, most recently working on behalf of the party in Ward 101 (Cato Crest and Mayville) ahead of a by-election.
“I am part and parcel of the campaign for next year’s elections and it is important for me to be on board. I am campaigning because I don’t want my constituents to be confused – they must vote ANC,” Gumede said.
She said she will not be able to chair eThekwini regional meetings until Mbalula responds to her request for a review.
ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to print.
The party’s provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said they were aware that Gumede had requested a review of the step-aside policy.
“In terms of policy, there must be a review every 12 months. In her case the trial has gone on for four years and there is no progress.
“We believe that she should be reinstated because of the length of this trial but the decision must be made by the office of the secretary-general and that is why she has asked him to review the matter,” Mndebele said.
On Gumede campaigning for the party, Mndebele said “all members should be allowed to campaign for the movement”.