Suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede shown in a file photo attending an ANC conference. File picture: BONGANI MBATHA/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The Methodist Church of Southern Africa has distanced itself from a prayer service which was aimed at giving suspended eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, divine support ahead of her court appearance on Thursday morning.

Gumede is a senior member of the church. She is also an active member of the Women's Manyano, a women's league of the church. On the church’s Facebook page there is a picture of Gumede clad in the church’s full regalia, handing over a donation of school shoes on behalf of the women's movement to an unidentified school. 

In a statement distancing themselves from the service, the church’s presiding bishop, Zipho Ziwa, said they have “noted with dismay” the vigil which was planned to be held at their G2 church in KwaMashu, north of Durban. 

He further said the planned prayer service which was due to be held at 5pm on Wednesday was not sanctioned by them and it does not represent their views regarding the standoff between Gumede and the law and her political party, the ANC. 

“We, as a church, we will not be party to protecting or covering up any alleged illegal activities or corruption. We strongly condemn any acts of corruption regardless of the social, religious and political stature of the perpetrators,” Ziwa said.  

Ziwa did acknowledge that Gumede is a member of their church and they are aware of the nature of the charges against her and said the matter is sub judice.

“These processes must be allowed to unfold and reach their natural conclusion without undue influence. Our role as a church is to accompany her pastorally as well as her family.”

Responding, the leader of Gumede’s supporters, Mzomuhle Dube, said while they have plans for a prayer service which were still on track, they have no idea where the Methodist church idea came from. 

“I don’t know who created the said poster because right now I am going to a meeting which will finalise details about the prayer services we are going to host today,” Dube said when called about the matter by Independent Media. 

Meanwhile, Gumede’s supporters and eThekwini municipality will square off before the Durban High Court at 2pm on Wednesday over an interdict obtained by the latter on July 12 this year following a violent protest outside the Durban city hall.

Dube alleged that the municipality was refusing to grant them rights to hold a night vigil outside the Durban regional magistrate using that interdict, hence the decision to challenge it in court.

“We have filed our urgent responding papers to their interdict and the matter will be heard at 2pm by a judge,” Dube said. 

Political Bureau