Zandile Gumede. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Zandile Gumede. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Embattled eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede will not return to work just yet as an ANC investigation into her is still incomplete, the party’s provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said on Wednesday.

Gumede is facing charges of fraud and corruption relating to a R208m Durban solid waste tender awarded in 2016, in which 62 other councillors have also been implicated. 

Last month, the party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) in KwaZulu-Natal resolved that Gumede should step down for 30 days to allow the governing party time to finalise processes of an internal investigation into the allegations she was facing.

The resolution also applied to Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba, who is out on R20,000 bail after being arrested in connection with the 2016 murder of former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) official Wandile Ngobeni.

Ntuli told journalists that the provincial working committee, which was tasked with the investigation, has not yet finalised its report.

“The affected comrades will not be expected to return to their work tomorrow. They have been involved in the process and are familiar with the work that has been done by the organisation.

“They know that until such time as the PEC receives a detailed report on the matter, that it is only then they will be expected to return back to work or to take the next set of steps that the PEC might instruct.”

Ntuli said that the process was 95% complete and could be done by the end of July.

The ANC’s decision is believed to have been strongly influenced by Gumede’s bail conditions and whether those conditions would allow her to do her job as mayor effectively. 

Gumede’s bail conditions prevent her from communicating with municipal officials and employees from the city’s finance division; Durban solid waste division; supply chain management; interfering with the functions and operations of the city; refraining from accessing information or reports relating to the investigation; and taking part in disciplinary actions against officials facing charges relating to similar investigations.

“The team investigating will need to look into the bail conditions and how they affect the operations Zandile will have to undertake as a mayor,” ANC provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said on Monday.

The same conditions apply to eThekwini councillor Mondli Mthembu, who together with Gumede, is accused of playing a major role in awarding the tender and influencing the appointment of service providers.

Gumede, chair of the eThekwini branch of the ANC and staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma, appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court in May alongside Mthembu, who is also the chair of the infrastructure committee; and a service provider, Craig Ponnan of El Shaddai Holdings.

On Tuesday, DA KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson on co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Mbali Ntuli, tabled a motion in the legislature requesting premier Sihle Zikalala to make Gumede’s leave of absence a permanent one.

Mahlaba appeared at the Madadeni Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday when his case was postponed to August 15. Gumede and her co-accused will return to court in the same month.