The ANC has extended eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede's forced leave of absence. File picture: Mlungisi Gumede

Durban - The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) has thrown its weight behind embattled eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, and asked her to speak at their eThekwini regional conference today.

Sanco is the first alliance partner to openly support Gumede whose 30-day forced leave of absence was extended by the ANC’s provincial leadership this week. On Saturday night, Sanco secretary-general Richard Mkhungo was galvanising supporters ahead of their meeting at the City Hall this morning.

He confirmed that Sanco had invited both city manager Sipho Nzuza and Gumede to the conference.

“The mayor is on special leave; she may come to address Sanco on issues of service delivery for one day after we have extended our invitation to her. We share our unwavering support for her after she was nominated by community members,” he said.

He said the elective conference would be attended by the alliance partners which included the ANC, SACP and Cosatu. Mkhungo said one of the issues they needed to discuss with Gumede and Nzuza was the garbage collection in uMlazi and the general lack of service delivery in townships.

Violent protests erupted on Thursday when Gumede’s supporters marched to the City Hall. Several protesters including Independent Media journalist Sihle Mavuso were manhandled and arrested.

ANC member and staunch Gumede supporter Mzo Dube said they were against the party’s decision to extend Gumede’s special leave but were caught off guard by the police’s abuse of power and state resources on Thursday.

Dube was charged with wilfully obstructing/hindering the flow of traffic, which he said made no sense and did not warrant the violence.

He explained that a key motive behind their protest was that unlike Gumede, Nzuza was not placed on special leave or investigated. Dube called for Nzuza to resign or be fired from his position as municipal accounting officer.

Dube warned that the protests would only cease when Gumede was reinstated.

Benedict Xolani Dube, senior researcher at Xubera, said the ANC of old which liberated the condemned was non-existent in KZN.

“There is no ANC in the province, we have a conglomerate of people sharing one common goal - the looting of future generations," he said.

Dube said that eThekwini municipality was long regarded as a den of thieves and that Nzuza turning state witness confirmed this.

Msawakhe Mayisela, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, said the city was granted an interim interdict from the Durban High Court on Thursday.

Sunday Tribune