TENDER PROBE: Zandile Gumede Picture: Jacques Naudé/ANA
Durban - The mayor of eThekwini, Zandile Gumede, might have a cloud of suspicion hanging over her head, but the KwaZulu-Natal ANC and its youth league (ANCYL) are still backing her, claiming that the Hawks’ probe into a lucrative municipal tender was politically motivated.

On Sunday, City Press reported that the Hawks were investigating Gumede over allegations that she instructed municipal officials to award a R25million tender for the provision and servicing of chemical toilets to those who had aided her political fortunes.

The ANC eThekwini region, which Gumede chairs, was also one of the first to throw its weight behind the presidential ambitions of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

On Monday, Gumede’s detractors in the ANC said the Hawks’ probe and the fact that officials from the office of the Auditor-General had been threatened with violence was enough to suspend her.

ANCYL regional spokesperson Thulisa Ndlela said the league at the ANC conference in Nasrec warned against suspending leaders based only on investigations, because it could be used to target political opponents.

“It could be used to make false allegations just because we want people to be removed from office.

“Investigations can run into years while the person is on suspension. Therefore we are not in support of comrade Zandile stepping aside, because it would set a precedent,” Ndlela said.

However, Ndlela said Gumede should co-operate with the Hawks in their investigation against her.

READ: Mayor mum on Hawks investigation

“The investigation must continue, and if it found that there was wrongdoing, the KZN ANC will definitely be pressured into acting against Gumede by its youth league,” said Ndlela.

As Gumede was presumed innocent until proved guilty, the ANCYL in KZN still had confidence in her, he added.

Ndlela said allegations of threats directed at officials from the office of the Auditor-General was a concern to the league, as this created the impression that KZN was becoming a no-go-zone.

“We are happy that the political leadership has insisted that this matter must be investigated as a matter of urgency and that whoever is found to have been involved in the alleged threats be brought to book.

“We are not going to support any form of no-go-zone in KZN and eThekwini.

“The Auditor-General’s office must do what it is legislated to do as a government institution,” Ndlela pointed out.

Meanwhile, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize has condemned the intimidation of auditors. He said Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu had told him that it had also occurred at the Msunduzi municipality in Pietermaritzburg.

READ: Auditor general staff threatened in Durban

Makwetu’s spokesperson Africa Boso said Makwetu had informed national and provincial governments about the threats against his auditors.

“We are encouraged by the commitment shown by the relevant government leaders we have engaged with, that they are looking into this matter with the urgency it deserves,” said Boso.

An ANC councillor in the eThekwini municipality, who asked to remain anonymous, said the ANC caucus would meet on Wednesday, ahead of a full council sitting on Thursday, where Gumede’s investigation and threats against auditors would be discussed.

“The threats against auditors and the Hawks investigation will definitely subject Zandile to interrogation by the councillors,” the councillor said.

The ANC’s regional secretary, Bheki Ntuli, said the party would not push for Gumede’s suspension, although the regional leadership discussed her matter at their meeting on Monday.

He said the ANC was trying to establish who in the municipality had threatened the auditors.

“The auditors must report them to the police,” he said.

The Star