Zandile Gumede’s 'jolly holiday’ suspension on R1.1m salary slammed by DA, IFP
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ANA and IOL reporter
Cape Town – The fact that fraud-accused Zandile Gumede has been asked to step aside until her appearance before the ANC’s integrity committee was derided by DA leader John Steenhuisen on Friday.
"If the suspension on full pay of disgraced former eThekwini Mayor and newly sworn-in member of the KZN Provincial Legislature, Zandile Gumede, is the ANC’s idea of strong, principled action against corruption, then it deserves every derogatory Twitter hashtag directed towards it," said Steenhuisen in a statement.
IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa called the decision "a disgrace and a shameful act".
The IFP is the official opposition in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, while the DA is the official opposition in the eThekwini metro.
"If (the ANC) wants to be taken seriously, they must be bold and decisive and ask Zandile Gumede to do the honourable thing and to resign, and if she refuses, show her the door as an MPL," said Hlabisa.
Gumede and 16 co-accused, including councillors, service providers and officials, have been charged with fraud and corruption relating to a Durban Solid Waste tender scandal, the amount of which has escalated to over R400 million as investigations into the matter continue.
The former mayor – fired along with her administration by the ANC last year because of poor performance in the metro – is currently out on R50 000 bail.
The KwaZulu-Natal ANC said on Friday Gumede and all other party members facing charges in a court of law would have to "step aside" from party and government roles, pending an appearance before the ANC integrity committee.
Her "deployment" to the legislature caused outrage among the public.
Hlabisa said the IFP rejected the "reckless misuse of taxpayers' money in KZN - as demonstrated by this suspension with full pay“.
“The IFP views this move as a mockery and a slap in the face of the people of KwaZulu-Natal. The people of KwaZulu-Natal are learning hard lessons from the ANC.
"The IFP now calls upon the national leadership of the ANC to intervene and show Zandile Gumede the door.“
Steenhuisen said Gumede retaining the R1.1 million salary she has just been promoted to makes a ’’complete mockery’’ of President Ramaphosa’s solemn vows in Parliament yesterday that corruption will no longer be tolerated in his party
“Life, it seems, is indeed one long jolly holiday for the corrupt cadres of the ANC,” said Steenhuisen.
“Just this week the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) released a report detailing the eye-watering amounts spent paying the salaries of suspended public servants in provincial governments and national government departments.
“’In provincial governments alone, the tally to date is R158 million. Between 1 October and 31 December last year, government spent R84 million on precautionary suspension cases, while it spent a further R74 million in the first three months of 2020.
“This is clearly unacceptable, and makes a complete mockery of President Ramaphosa’s solemn vows that corruption will no longer be tolerated in his party – a tune he has been singing for years now with no effect at all.
“If the ANC continues to either redeploy its corrupt politicians – and even promote them, as we’ve seen in Gumede’s case – or simply pay them a full salary to stay at home, then these vows mean nothing.
’’Furthermore, this suspension of Gumede only followed intense outside pressure, and particularly from the DA in yesterday’s parliamentary Questions to the President session. It had nothing to do with a newly discovered moral compass in the ANC.
’’In fact, the desperate attempts to now row away from the decision to promote Gumede by both the KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) and Luthuli House are almost comical.
’’We now have sources in the PEC saying the deployment instruction came from Luthuli House, and we have ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte demanding answers from the PEC.
’’The truth is that both the PEC and Luthuli House were perfectly happy with Gumede’s appointment, until the pressure came from outside and they had to start putting out fires.
’’At the time of her swearing-in the ANC, through Nhlakanipho Ntombela, assured us that her deployment had the full blessing of Luthuli House and even went as far as claiming it as some sort of victory for the empowerment of women.
’’It is laughable statements like these that demonstrate just how much disdain the ANC has for the citizens of this country…
’’The president’s refusal to answer my question to him in Parliament yesterday on where he stands on the Gumede matter is another demonstration of this disdain. It also shows just how sensitive this issue of dealing with the corrupt is to the ANC, because the rot has spread right throughout the party.
’’I am sure we are now expected to welcome this decision to suspend Zandile Gumede, as if it is some sort of turning point in the fight against corruption. ’
’But the DA will never welcome the blatant dodging of real accountability and the continued exploitation of taxpayers for the benefit of cadres who are already multi- millionaires.
’’If her mansion and the luxury cars confiscated from the homes of her co-accused by the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the NPA are anything to go by, Gumede will be just fine without her salary.’’