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

Former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede and her supporters are busy working the streets in eThekwini in an effort to revive her floundering political career.

On Tuesday they accused the KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership of delaying the eThekwini ANC regional conference to “dilute” her support and prevent her from being elected to head the region.

Gumede is facing fraud, corruption and money-laundering charges at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court. She is out on bail of R50,000.

Despite the charges the key ally of former president Jacob Zuma remains popular in the province, especially in eThekwini. The region is the party’s biggest in SA with 110 branches.

She was arrested in May 2019 and charged with manipulating a multimillion-rand solid waste tender awarded by the municipality. She was also forced to resign as the mayor and lost her position as the regional chair of eThekwini when the ANC provincial leadership decided to disband it.

Elective conference postponed 

The ANC’s eThekwini regional elective conference was scheduled for December 2019 but the provincial leadership postponed it to between February and March 2020 “due to technical glitches”.

Thabani Nyawose, a long-standing ANC member, is set to challenge Gumede for the position of chair. Both sides have presented slates of lesser-known individuals for the four other positions.

Mzomuhle Dube, spokesperson for Gumede’s supporters, criticised some ANC leaders for delaying the conference and “concocting and hatching plans” to thwart her political comeback.

“We know the branches of the ANC in eThekwini are still 100% behind Mam Gumede. But we are worried about what the ANC provincial leadership is doing to delay the seating of the regional conference. We feel that the vacuum in the leadership of eThekwini is not helping anyone but allows the provincial leadership to impose their ‘people’ under the guise of deployment.

“They are also using the delaying tactics to ensure that the mandates of the branch leadership expires so that they can impose the task team who will change the status quo (majority Gumede support) in the branches,” he said.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He had said earlier that the  ANC’s provincial working committee had included Gumede on the four-member regional task team to prepare the embattled region for its elective conference. Her inclusion was to allay her supporters’  fears that they were being sidelined, he said.

Xolani Dube, a KZN-based political analyst, said Gumede’s opponents in the province were “between a rock and a hard place”.

“Her supporters say there has been a delaying tactics to stop her from being re-elected as the chairperson of eThekwini. If that is the case, those who are doing so are hopeful that this would weaken her support base. But it could be a double-edged sword because the delay could also consolidate her support base,” he said.