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

Durban - The ANC in KZN met from Sunday to discuss various issues, among them the future of embattled eThekwini mayor who has been on suspension for nearly two months. The party was expected to announce whether it would axe her or not - but missed the opportunity.

After two days of discussion that ended on Monday, the party failed to reach a decision, with reports that the all-powerful former regional chairperson of eThekwini region was able to lobby other regions to support her, so much that the provincial executive committee faced an internal revolt that would have led to an early provincial conference. 

The matter was then deferred for further discussion, signalling a temporary victory for her and her supporters.

KZN ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli says they decided to act against suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede while a court case was going one was because they wanted to protect the reputation of the party. Video: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

Here are five things to know about the case that has left the ANC in the province deeply divided, barely a year in office:

The 2017 corruption allegations

Around 2017, there were reports that there was corruption in the awarding of a R208 million waste collection tender to several companies. The media reports were dismissed as false until the Hawks started quietly investigating the matter the following year.

The May 14 2019 arrest of Gumede 

Gumede having spent the early months of the year fending off reports of arrests circulated in WhatsApp groups and social media, was eventually asked late on May 13 by the Hawks to present herself to the Durban Commercial Crimes Court the following day and she did. 

It was during that chaotic appearance that journalists were barred from taking pictures by Durban Metro Police.

After a brief appearance together with Mondli Mthembu, a senior ANC councillor in eThekwini and several others who own the companies alleged to have been involved in the corruption, they were granted bail fixed at R50 000 and conditions that they should not interfere with witnesses.
Interestingly, the state said it was still investigating the matter and the charges were not specified.

The political wrestling following the arrest 

Pressured both the public and opposition parties to vacate office until her matter is resolved, Gumede and her supporters dug in, saying the case was politically motivated in order to weaken her ahead of the much anticipated eThekwini ANC regional conference.

Several meetings were held between Gumede and the provincial leadership and the matter was eventually heard by the party lekgotla which sat in Mpangeni and a decision was taken that all party members facing charges must step aside.

The June 10 2019 suspension

On June 10, 2019 Gumede was officially suspended for 30 days with the ANC saying it would use the period to investigate allegations including that the case was politically motivated. 

When Independent Media spoke to her she said she was confident of winning the case and vowed that she will come back to work after clearing her name. From there the task team looked at the matter but no decision was taken because the decision making PEC did not meet and the provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli extended the leave until the body met over the weekend.

The August 4, 5 2019 stalemate 

Meeting amid much anticipation that it would finally settle the matter, the PEC failed to reach a consensus after the matter of Gumede left the party more divided when it was discussed for about five hours. 

One insider said Gumede and her supporters flex their muscle and mobilised other regions to reject a proposal to axe her using charges that may later be withdrawn. The matter would be tabled before a special conference to be held later this month. 

Thursday court appearance 

Buoyed by her partial victory at the PEC meeting, Gumede is returning to court on Thursday morning. There is speculation that the charges may be provisionally withdrawn as they are still investigating. 

Political Bureau