South Africa

STEP-ASIDE?

In blow to Ramaphosa, fraud-accused Zandile Gumede prevails in ANC’s eThekwini conference vote

Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and her Unity slate made a clean sweep against the RRU faction in the eThekwini regional conference leadership vote. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

In what could be seen as a stinging blow for Cyril Ramaphosa and his camp, Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and her Unity slate made a clean sweep against the RRU faction in the eThekwini regional conference leadership vote.

Ntando Khuzwayo walked with a spring in his step after the much-awaited eThekwini ANC regional conference results were announced on Sunday night. Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and her Unity slate made a clean sweep in their contest against the Renewal, Rebuild Unity (RRU) faction.

Gumede is facing fraud, corruption and money-laundering charges with 21 other co-accused after the R320-million Durban Solid Waste tender awarded by the eThekwini Municipality. The case will resume in the Pietermaritzburg High Court from 13 July to 31 August.

Now that she has won the leadership of the region, it remains to be seen whether Gumede will step down from her position until her cases have been settled.

She indicated during an interview with News24 last week that she would be willing to respect the ANC’s step-aside resolution.

zandile gumede anc ethekwini regional conference
The new eThekwini regional leadership includes Thembo Ntuli, deputy chairperson, Musa Nciki, secretary and Nkosenhle Madlala, deputy secretary. (Picture: Mandla Langa)

Khuzwayo is one of the leaders credited with criss-crossing the eThekwini region — the biggest ANC region in the country with 111 delegates — and delivering the delegates to vote for “Mama Gumede” at the conference.

“This victory is very sweet for me, it is a sweet victory for the branches because it means that eThekwini that was stolen from us, is back,” he said, wiping away tears.

“I always knew that Mama would win. I always knew that if she stood for the leadership of the eThekwini region, she would win.”

“The branches of eThekwini love her. She has been a leader of this region, serving in various positions and roles, for more than 20 years. Branches of eThekwini love her and trust her,” he said.

Khuzwayo said they would extend an olive branch to the losing side to work together to bring unity to the region.

“Now that we have won the conference, it is now time for the tough role of restoring the dignity and unity of the eThekwini region,” he said. The region will also now begin the process of engaging with other regions on the path forward.

Before the conference, nominations were too close to call.

The conference was delayed by disputes.

The first point of dispute was whether to allow the ANC’s eThekwini Women’s League and the ANC Youth League — both of whose terms of office had expired — to be accepted as voting delegates.

The Unity faction insisted the league should vote while the RRU tried to block this, saying these leagues could participate as delegates, but should not be allowed to vote.

In the end, the leagues were allowed in as voting delegates. A total of 25 votes were up for grabs — 13 for the Women’s League and 12 for the Youth League. This is what decisively tilted the balance of power in Gumede’s favour.

Gumede’s supporters could not contain their joy when it was announced that all five nominees on their slate had won. Gumede won with 210 votes, beating current eThekwini Municipality Speaker Thabani Nyawose, who secured only 181 votes.

Due to the step-aside resolution, Gumede was not at the conference and followed the proceedings from the great comfort of her home.

Thembo Ntuli beat Mlungisi Dlamini for the position of deputy chairperson.

Mandla Ncika, the former eThekwini Municipality official, won the powerful position of regional secretary, beating former eThekwini secretary Bheki Ntuli.

eThekwini Municipality councillor Nkosenhle Madlala beat the RRU’s Thanduxolo Sabela for the position of regional deputy secretary.

Nomthandazo “Zowie” Shabalala beat RRU candidate Ntokozo Sibiya.

The result is seen as a huge setback for Cyril Ramaphosa and his camp, but could also have serious ramifications for the leadership of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. The province is due to have its electoral conference in mid-July.

Nyawose told Daily Maverick shortly after the results were announced that he was not bitter about the results “because democracy has prevailed”.

He said he would give his full support to the newly elected leadership, but believed that Gumede should step aside until she had been “cleared by the courts”.

Nyawose said he did not think that losing the elections necessarily meant his job (as eThekwini Speaker) was in jeopardy. 

“The results tonight have nothing to do with my job. I contested the elections because I believed that I could contribute something. I was deployed by the ANC to my job. The future is unpredictable; if the ANC is still happy with my services I will continue, but if the ANC feels that they must recall me I will accept.”

Nyawose has been unreservedly supportive of Ramaphosa’s second-term bid.

“The election result tonight has nothing to do with the performance of Cyril Ramaphosa as the president of the ANC. I don’t think it will affect his chances of re-election. When the nomination process for national leadership opens in August, I believe that branches of the ANC in eThekwini will assess the performances of the leadership collection and make appropriate decisions,” Nyawose said.

zandile gumede anc ethekwini regional conference
Delegates at eThekwini ANC regional conference at the Durban ICC conference hall celebrate the victory of the Zandile Gumede Unity slate over the RRU faction on Sunday night. (Picture: Mandla Langa)

Pule Mabe, national ANC spokesman, said the new eThekwini regional leadership had to be given a space to reflect on the way forward on Gumede’s step-aside issue.

“I think it is only fair that this new leadership is given its space to conduct its business, including reflecting on the step-aside issue. The National Working Committee (NWC) will be meeting on Monday to reflect on this and other matters to communicate one singular message on the step-aside issue so that our members will not be misled,” Mabe said.

Gumede is not the only leader affected by the step-aside resolution. Shabalala is also facing charges of fraud and corruption linked to tenders awarded by the eThekwini municipality. Of the five elected, only three will remain in their positions if the step-aside resolution is applied.

Before the results were announced, Gumede’s supporters began singing songs in her praise.

Thembo Ntuli, the newly elected deputy chairperson, said leaders who were on the losing slate would not lose their jobs in the municipality as they “view them as comrades and not opponents. It is just that they had a different view to us”.

When the conference resolutions and adopted policies were announced, the Durban ICC conference hall was almost empty as supporters of both factions had left, the Unity faction to celebrate and the RRU faction to reflect on the loss. DM

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  • This is not so much a blow to Ramaphosa as a blow to South Africa. The appointment of an individual as tainted as Gumede is a clear indication that the ANC (at least in KZN) is a party not concerned with the rule of law.

  • This is a terrible result for the ANC. How can any party of integrity even think of voting in such candidates. Come on DA and ACTIONSA, let’s hear your voices.

  • Nothing about the ANC surprises me anymore. It is an organisation that has no problem appointing criminals and persons accused of criminality.
    What disappoints me, where are those today who brought one of the most unjust systems, apartheid, to its knees. Surely this is not the SA they fought for.

  • Not one mention of what Gumede or the eThekwini regional leadership are planning on doing for the region or ‘their’ people. It’s just about their own jobs and keeping the gravy train going.

  • The ANC power still rests in KZN. The ANC rule book of stand down is like a huge block of gruyere cheese with cheese’s favourite feasters popping out of every hole.

  • This just confirms the corruptness within the ANC. Also that they do not care who is guilty of what, as long as that person shouts louder, they get the vote……

  • How do you “restore the digninity of eThekwini” with a criminal in charge? What will it take for these people to come to their senses?

  • When Jacob Zuma was elected to lead the ANC, and therefore the country, everyone knew what kind of man he was – he had just been fired as vice president by Thabo Mbeki because he was deeply implicated in corruption. But the delegates at Polokwane voted for him anyway. Now ANC delegates are doing the same thing in eThekwini. There’s nothing unusual about people with criminal tendencies standing for public office, but what’s truly bizarre is when members of their party knowingly elect them as leaders. Do they honestly think these are the best people to fulfil the aspirations of ordinary people? Of course not. I can only think they do so in the expectation they will be rewarded with jobs and contracts, at the taxpayer’s expense. They can hardly be oblivious to the consequences of this approach to governance – the signs of neglect and corruption all around us are now blindingly obvious – so the only inference is that they care more about personal enrichment than social upliftment. There is a point of no return – you only need to travel through Africa to see it – the only question is whether voters will throw out the ANC (and reject other parties that are just waiting their turn at the trough) before we get there? I think they might, as long as there is a credible alternative. It’s time for people who are widely respected and of unimpeachable integrity to hoist their flags before it’s too late. Your country needs you!

  • This is not a blow to Ramaphosa only. This is a major blow to South Africa. That our ruling party can allow an elective conference in which their own constitution is glibly set aside is bad news. That any person as deeply implicated in corruption as this can even stand for election is bad news. That these two bad news stories can combine to result in the election to power of a person who has previously been fired for corruption is disastrous news for South Africa.

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