Durban - Ethekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is expected back at work on Tuesday.
While her staff are preparing for her return to office, the ANC provincial leadership must still decide on the next step after it forced her to take a 30-day leave of absence.
In May, Gumede appeared before the city’s Commercial Crimes Court on fraud charges related to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender in which 62 councillors were also implicated. She is out on R50000 bail and is expected back in court in August. Both her spokesman Mthunzi Gumede and her advocate Jay Naidoo confirmed the 30-day leave the ANC had asked her to take, ends tomorrow.
While the mayor vowed to return to work after the period of forced leave, as resigning would seem like an admission of guilt for something she did not do, the DA is having none of that. Executive committee councillor Thabani Mthethwa said they were in talks with their legal advisors.
“We have looked at whether she was in breach of her bail conditions when she presented the budget at the end of May and presided over EXCO.
“If she is in breach, automatically the police should re-arrest her. We’ll take the matter to court if needs be,” he said.
IFP councillor Mduduzi Nkosi said he had written to Premier Sihle Zikalala requesting that an independent investigation be launched into the mayor’s conduct. “We need something like the Manase Report into wrongdoing in the municipality,” he said.
The ANC’s provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said they would make an announcement regarding Gumede once they knew the outcome of an internal party investigation that allegations against Gumede and Newcastle Local Municipality mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba were politically motivated.
Mahlaba was also placed on 30-day leave when the ANC decided that those facing serious charges would have to step aside. Since her forced leave Gumede’s supporters have marched on City Hall and the ANC’s provincial offices several times, demanding her reinstatement, resulting in violence. The City also warned of scammers requesting donations to aid her legal bid saying that the mayor had not endorsed the campaign.
Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer who took over Gumede’s role in the interim was also drawn into the controversy when she was rushed to hospital with alleged poisoning amid reports that the bottle she drank from in a council meeting had been laced with paraffin.
On Saturday Peer refused to talk about Gumede’s return.