The mayor of eThekwini has been granted R50 000 bail on Tuesday, after appearing in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court. Zandile Gumede is facing a raft of charges – ranging from corruption to racketeering and fraud – and will return to court in August for her trial.
The public official has long been suspected of dodgy dealings during her three years as mayor. Gumede also appeared alongside Councillor Mondli Mthembu who is accused of facilitating rampant corruption in the municipality.
Why is Zandile Gumede in court?
The ultimate undoing of Zandile Gumede has proved to be the illegal tender she awarded to Durban Solid Waste (DSW). The sanitation company were paid in excess of R25 million to provide 800 chemical toilets to the city.
Gumede and Mthembu are also accused of keeping four service providers within their employ, without observing the correct legal channels. They are said to have flouted tender processes, and it’s reported they manipulated the way service supply chains work in Durban.
They appointed many contractors on the grounds of it being “an emergency”, despite this never being the case. Continued mismanagement and maladministration has lead to a municipal strike, and rubbish has piled up across the streets of eThekwini in the process.
Zandile Gumede and acts of corruption
This is not Zandile Gumede’s first rodeo, though. She has also been lambasted for repeated cadre deployment. The mayor has given jobs to senior ANC members rather than applicants, and promoted MK veterans from Grade 4 to Grade 10 bands in office – As DA Councillor Nicole Graham argues, it granted them an unbalanced amount of power:
“The Democratic Alliance has been calling for Gumede’s axing for some time. Her reign at the helm of eThekwini has been characterized by poor performance, maladministration and corruption.”
“Her actions in promoting MK veterans from grade four to grade ten bands caused the most crippling municipal strike Durban has seen in years. Tens of thousands of residents were left stranded without electricity, water and refuse collection.”
Gumede was elected as a proportional representative (PR) councillor for two terms before she became Amaoti councillor. In the eThekwini Municipality, she was also elected as treasurer from 2007 to 2015.
Her appointment was seen as progressive, in a province where just 15-out-of-54 municipal mayors are women – these are the second-worst figures in the province, behind the Western Cape’s 8-out-of-30. However, shortly after she was elected mayor in 2016, her first and arguably most famous controversy came to light.
She gave the green-light to spend upwards of R20 million on riot-control vehicles known as “Casspirs”. The huge investment left a major hole in the municipal budget, and the motors haven’t even had a proper run-out. Suspicions about the deal arose, and Gumede was again questioned about how she personally benefited from the exchange.
Will Cyril Ramaphosa get rid of cabinet members, mayors?
Of course, the timing of this arrest is highly intriguing: The Hawks have apparently been ready to swoop on Zandile Gumede since December. Now, just a few days after the ANC won the national elections and kept hold of KwaZulu-Natal, she’s been cuffed and charged.
President Ramaphosa is no stranger to “concomitant action” and the arrest of the eThekwini mayor shows that some of Jacob Zuma’s cronies are going to face the music. It’s also likely that Cyril won’t stop swinging the axe here, either.
As The Sunday Times report, there’s a list of 22 Parliamentary candidates who have been flagged as “unsuitable” for office by the ANC. It’s understood that Ramaphosa could block their path to the National Assembly.
Bye bye Bathabile, no more Nomvula?
Current Ministers Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane have been roundly criticised for their performance in government: The less said about the state they left their respective divisions of SASSA and Sanitation, the better. They’ve been “red-flagged” by the ANC before, and their time could soon be up.
ANC Head of Elections Fikile Mbalula has already communicated that four government departments could soon get the chop. During the president’s last reshuffle, we saw certain departments merge.
That’s a possibility with the Ministries of Women and Environmental Affairs, controlled by Dlamini and Mokonyane respectively. Their fields could be delegated to more “competent” ministers, and as the president finally gets to use his mandate from the electorate to assert his authority, both could go the same way as Zandile Gumede.