Zandile Gumede. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
Zandile Gumede. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

The raids on former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede’s home were part of a well orchestrated plot by her political foes to scupper her chances of winning the eThekwini leadership race in December, her supporters said on Monday.

The region is the ANC’s biggest in the country and its branches are in the process of nominating candidates to stand at its elective conference.

Gumede was arrested in May this year and has since appeared in the Durban commercial crime court facing charges of unduly influencing the awarding of a R208m tender in 2016. She was joined by 15 other accused, including eThekwini municipality councillors, municipal officials and local businessmen.

She is out on bail of R50,000. 

The KZN ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) ordered her to vacate her mayoral position. The party also disbanded the eThekwini ANC regional executive committee, whose term of office had lapsed last year but had been allowed to exist because the party could not afford a contentious regional elective conference ahead of the May 8 general election.

Gumede has indicated she will contest for the position of chair in December. She is expected to be contested by Thabani Nyawose, an ANC stalwart.

The ANC structures in the province are already taking sides. The ANC Youth League in eThekwini is said to be split in the middle, with some of its leaders pushing for Gumede and others rallying behind Nyawose.

Mzo Dube, one of the Gumede’s fiercest supporters and campaigner, said he was sure Gumede would emerge victorious, despite the recent raids. He placed the charges and raids against Gumede on the shoulders of police minister Bheki Cele, saying he was using the police to deal with his political opponents.

“The branches have nominated her to stand for the leadership position. The timing of the raids are suspicious because they happened just as the branches are nominating leaders they want to lead them.

“We cannot divorce these raids from politics. These raids are nothing but a ploy to tarnish the image of comrade Zandile when ANC members are supposed to be making their nominations. But despite all of this, she is still very popular... ,” he said.

Gumede told her supporters that she was in trouble for pursuing radical economic transformation during her short-lived term as mayor.

Durban-based political analyst Xolani Dube said the Hawks’ raid on Gumede and other co-accused are having the same effect as what they did for former president Jacob Zuma, which was to make him more popular with the masses.