Durban - Axed eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is set to return to the municipality to work as an ordinary councillor.
Her decision to surrender her mayoral chain and retain her crucial seat as a councillor comes as the ANC in the council deals with two vacancies that have yet to be filled. This comes after it appointed Mxolisi Kaunda as the new eThekwini mayor, Belinda Scott as his deputy and Weziwe Thusi as the Speaker.
KZN ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu confirmed that Gumede was returning as a councillor, adding they were “working” on the issue of accommodating one of the three new faces.
“They (Gumede and all those axed) are still councillors because they only resigned in the positions they were assigned to, but not as councillors.
“To be a mayor, you first have to be a councillor She will continue to be an ordinary councillor until the ANC decides where she will be deployed to,” said Mthembu.
The leader of Gumede’s supporters, Mzomuhle Dube, said the former mayor was returning as an ordinary councillor and the laws governing municipalities allowed her to keep her seat. He added in the current circumstances, the ruling party had to sacrifice someone to pave a way for one of the three candidates.
“If the (former) mayor resigned, it would have made things easy for the ANC, but now she is staying put as an ordinary councillor,” Dube said.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo believes Gumede’s presence in the council will likely overshadow the new mayor and expose the party’s prevailing divisions.
And as the new leadership is sworn into office tomorrow, Khumalo says sparks will fly as the ANC is not in full control of their members in the council.
“I doubt that the PEC (ANC provincial executive committee) calls the shots in the council chambers; the council chamber is divided. Another big dilemma for the party is how the council will function after she resigned as mayor and remains as a councillor.
“It’s not known how much support she has within the council and how she’s going to use that support to deal with the new mayor - nobody knows,” he said.
He highlighted that it was possible that Gumede’s sympathisers could abstain on certain matters or vote with the opposition when confidentiality was guaranteed.
Mdu Nkosi, an IFP councillor who sits in the municipality’s exco, said while as a party they were happy to see the removal of Gumede and her ANC exco team, they were unhappy that the ANC had taken so long to act.
Nkosi said that it was unfortunate the ruling party was more worried about its internal fights than the city’s residents, adding the IFP would not support the governing party’s candidates.