eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and (Co-Accused) Mondli Mthembu outside the court after the appearance in the Regional Commercial Crimes Court 10 in Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - Zandile Gumede will hear whether or not she still has the top job in the city today. The suspended eThekwini mayor on Saturday said she was being targeted for being a woman in a male-dominated position.

Gumede, who was implicated in a multimillion-rand fraud and corruption case, lamented that she was a victim of gender-based discrimination.

“This shows that in South Africa women are still oppressed because if you are a man, it seems as if your criminal case is much lesser than that of a woman.”

However, the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu said there were other “comrades” who also faced criminal charges and whose fate would be decided at a special provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting on Sunday, the outcome would be announced on Tuesday.

The ANC had forced Gumede, the municipality’s infrastructure committee chairperson Mondli Mthembu and Newcastle mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba to take leave because of the charges they faced.

Gumede, Mthembu and other co-accused were charged with fraud and corruption in connection with a R208 million Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender.

Mahlaba was implicated in the murder of ANC Youth League member Wandile Ngobeni in 2016.

Gumede told the Sunday Tribune that her gender was being used against her.

“Nojiyeza was detained for six months without charges, and he is still here (as a councillor),” she said.

Ward 80 councillor Mthokozisi Nojiyeza, who was Gumede’s backer, was detained in connection with the murder of the Ward 88 councillor, Sibusiso Maphumulo, but the charges were later withdrawn.

“A woman is being treated as inferior. Among my co-accused are men, but only my name is mentioned the most.

“Why is it always mama Zandile who gets mentioned?”She said it was only because she was a woman holding two powerful positions - as mayor and the ANC’s regional chairperson in eThekwini, both usually taken by men.

“The challenges faced by my municipality are similar to those faced by many municipalities, and they are expected since we are a big organisation.

“Cogta (provincial government) never found us to be bad performers and the auditor-general never found us to have misused money. This is simply because there are people who are not happy with a woman in power and they want to taint her reputation,” claimed Gumede.

However, it was previously reported that Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu had found that in the past financial year, eThekwini had incurred more than R700 million in irregular expenditure.

Talking about the case against her, Gumede said it was mind-boggling that while the municipality had committed serious mistakes, “there is a mysterious arrest before charges are formulated”.

“Charges are still not ready but I am arrested as my senior counsel told the court that he was worried about the absence of charges as he wanted to prepare for the defence’s case,” said Gumede.

Mthembu said the meeting would definitely take a decision, but he could not say whether or not Gumede and others would be fired by the PEC.

“We should wait for the PEC to discuss, and from there we would know what the decisions are,” he said.

On Satuday, the ANC’s alliance partner, the SACP, called for Gumede to be removed.

“The ANC must do what is good for the ratepayers the mayor is an obstacle to service delivery,” said SACP provincial secretary Themba Mthembu.

He said the ANC should appoint a “seasoned and senior leader” to serve as mayor and that person could be redeployed from the national executive committee.

Mthembu warned that if the ANC did not act decisively “the people will rise up”.

Last week, a member of the SAPS’s national task team investigating Gumede was shot while driving in Johannesburg. Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hlangwani Mulaudzi said the officer was recuperating at home following the attack. The matter is being investigated and precautionary measures under way.

Sunday Tribune