The ANC’s provincial executive committee (PEC) in KwaZulu-Natal could not agree on whether to recall eThekwini mayor and party heavyweight Zandile Gumede, sources have told News24.
Two party insiders told News24 the executive committee, which held a two-day meeting at the weekend, was at odds over Gumede’s fate.
This after its provincial working committee (PWC) recommended that she be recalled after it compiled a report into her fitness to hold office, two independent officials told News24.
The PEC announced on Tuesday that it was extending Gumede’s special leave for a second time as a decision on her future had still not been made.
Provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli made the announcement at the ANC’s headquarters in KZN on Tuesday. Ntuli said provincial leaders had received a report from the PWC on those members who are facing court challenges. It decided to allow more time for the PEC to finalise matters against the affected members.
According to one party insider, Gumede’s recall would present a problem as she still commands a significant support base in the eThekwini region, the party’s biggest in the country.
“There are no doubts that she should leave office. However, as the PEC, there needs to be a clear plan on how the party would handle the fallout. No one could agree on how to handle the matter. However, there is an agreement that she can’t be allowed to lead the metro,” one source told News24.
During the media briefing, Ntuli said a report was presented to the PWC which had various permutations on dealing with the matter.
Ntuli added that Gumede and other affected party members felt the report by the PWC did not adequately deal with certain issues and they wanted more time for further engagement.
It’s understood that the PEC will convene a special meeting on Friday to make a final decision on the matter. Gumede, who is facing fraud and corruption related to a R208 million Durban solid waste tender, is due in court on Thursday.
Another party member told News24 the PEC could not reach consensus because some raised the fact that the court case against Gumede was not yet finalised.
“Some comrades in future will be affected by this precedent. If she is removed from office with an understanding that a court matter is not finalised then it means all those who face court action must be recalled. There are some who are unfazed by this and yet there are comrades who are trying to save their own skin, in saving Gumede.
“Comrade Gumede is still a formidable player in the province and that is something that we have to take into account. Of course the party also cannot play into the opposition’s hands,” the source told News24.
Gumede has been on special leave since July with her supporters threatening to take the ANC to court if the matter is not resolved.
It’s also understood that Luthuli House wants the matter concluded speedily.
Leaders at the ANC’s national headquarters instructed the working committee to handle the matter with urgency.
Posters have been circulating on social media calling on her supporters to join a night vigil in her name on Wednesday evening, the night before her court case.