Ethekwini's acting mayor, Fawzia Peer, with Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a full council sitting in Durban on Wednesday. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addressed eThekwini Municipality councillors on Wednesday morning, but made no mention of criminally-charged mayor Zandile Gumede, an unresolved issue that has been plaguing the metro.

Dlamini-Zuma was speaking at the Durban City Hall during a full council sitting.

She told councillors that her visit was part of a nationwide assessment of municipalities to ensure good governance and constitutional adherence.

“We need to work together and ensure that citizens get what they deserve. It is also important that tourists feel safe and we have functioning inner cities.”

The minister said that when she was in eThekwini last week, she saw a media report that businesses wanted to leave the city because of crime and filth.

“We don’t want businesses to leave the city, we want the people and city to benefit and to collect the revenue that is needed. If businesses go to Umhlanga and other places, we lose revenue,” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma said she had spoken with acting mayor Fawzia Peer and there were plans afoot to deal with the issues.

“Durban has not been in the media for kindness or for its beauty or for its tourists who love the city. I want you to get back into the news for the good things,” she said.

The city's mayor, Zandile Gumede, is currently out on R50 000 bail after being charged in mid-May for her alleged part in tender fraud relating to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste contract from 2016.

She was subsequently placed on leave by the provincial African National Congress following a public outcry. Gumede is due back at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court next week.

The city endured several violent, disruptive and costly protests before and after Gumede being charged.

Her supporters are due in court on Thursday morning to challenge an interdict that keeps them from protesting outside city hall, which is situated in the central business district. They have demanded that Gumede be reinstated immediately. Some of the interdicted supporters were at the council meeting, which prompted calls from the opposition benches that they leave. 

Dlamini-Zuma did not address Gumede’s charges or hint at if or when she would return to work, or if a new mayor would be instated.  

She did, however, say that all municipalities should have governance systems in place and that “citizens must be engaged” to avoid the exponential increase in destructive protests, which were a nationwide trend.

African News Agency (ANA)