Suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - Despite the ANC in KZN on Tuesday finally axing controversial and fraud and corruption accused mayor of eThekwini, Zandile Gumede, it took them over two months and four tense meetings to make a final decision.

At first, the party appeared as if it wanted to fire her over the charges she faces over a 2017 R208 waste million tender where she and Mondli Mthembu, a senior ANC councillor who has also been axed, are accused of pocketing bribes. 

They later changed tack and instituted a probe into the failing metro and used it to fire the lot.

Here is a timeline of how things unfolded until she was sacked:

KZN ANC lekgotla resolves to suspend her

Gumede was arrested on May 14, 2019 and she was granted a R50 000 bail but she returned to work immediately afterwards, although there were concerns about the move. 

Faced with the challenge of having to form a provincial government after winning the majority of votes in KZN during the May 8 elections, the party’s hands were tied. However, it was eventually able to call her to explain the arrest.

Between June 8 and 10 this year, her matter - together with that of Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba of Newcastle - was discussed at a lekgotla held in Empangeni. Mahlaba was charged with murder. 

On June 10 the party suspended her, with provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli, saying they wanted to look at the matter as there were allegations that the case was politically motivated.

Gumede accepted the decision, even expressing hope to Independent Media that the party would clear her which would allow her to return to work.

July 10, 2019 extension of the suspension period

With the provincial executive committee unable to meet within the 30 day period while Gumede was on leave, Ntuli announced that the leave had been extended until further notice. 

However, the Gumede's supporters alleged that was a ploy to find new reasons to fire her. They hinted that the assessment of the 11 struggling municipalities was to be used. On July 11, Gumede's supporters staged a violent protest outside the city hall, closing the administrative capital of the metro and the revenue office across the hall. 

The protest was eventually abandoned after the city obtained an interdict.

The PEC meeting of 3 and 4 August that ended in a stalemate

The matter was eventually brought before the PEC which held a meeting over the weekend of 3 and 4 August in Durban. 

After receiving a report from Nhlanhla Ngidi and John Jeffreys which recommended that Gumede be fired, the meeting failed to reach a decision when the matter was debated. 

It was said there was heated discussion until the provincial leadership decided to postpone the matter to be heard the following weekend at a special PEC meeting. 

Her special leave was again extended until further notice.

The August 12 sacking

In a move that was hailed by her opponents and criticised by her supporters, after meeting for two days between August 11 and 12, 2019, Gumede was eventually fired by her party. 

The party cited the sad state of eThekwini, the only metro in the province. Among the issues cited was the failure to utilise housing grants, uncollected litter in townships like uMlazi, the biggest township in eThekwini and a billing crisis.

The provincial leadership did not mention the irregular hiking of salaries of MK veterans that crippled the city just a few days before the May 8 general elections. 

An expected fight back 

Gumede's supporters have been secretly meeting since Monday evening when the news first broke that she has been fired and two reactions have been predicted. The first one is staging protests outside the ANC provincial headquarters and the second is taking the matter to court. 

Political Bureau