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eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede maintains she’s innocent until proven guilty

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Mayor Gumede maintains that she is innocent and insists that the case must run its course until a ruling is passed.

On Wednesday morning, 15 May 2019, mayor Gumede appeared before the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on charges that include fraud, corruption and racketeering, where she was released on a R50 000 bail. She was also instructed to surrender her passport and not interfere with witnesses. She, however, told the media that she had no intention of stepping down as mayor until her alleged crimes are proved as “mere allegations.”

Gumede, who is the mayor of KwaZulu-Natal’s only metro and the chairperson of the biggest region of the African National Congress (ANC), was accused alongside municipal councillor and infrastructure portfolio committee chairperson Mondli Mthembu and businessman Craig Ponnan, for “playing a major role” in a shady refuse removal contract worth R208 million.

Asked whether she would resign should the ANC instruct her to, she said, “Right now I am the mayor, and I will continue to be the mayor, as these are mere allegations and investigators are saying they are not done with their investigations. They (ANC) cannot listen to one side and then take a decision. Instead, they must listen to all sides before taking a decision about my position.”

ANC regional secretary Bheki Ntuli confirmed that Gumede would remain the city’s mayor until an alternative decision is made at the eThekwini regional executive meeting, scheduled to sit before the end of the week.

“We’ve not had enough time to look at the charge sheet and know what it’s all about. We’ll have to give her a chance to present her side at a special meeting. As things stand, she is still the mayor of the city,” Ntuli said.

However, Gumede may have to step down on her own accord as the bail conditions are extremely restrictive on her. She is not allowed to communicate with officials linked to the DSW audit, supply chain management, legal or financial employees or staff involved in operations in the administration.

“The bail conditions are also extremely restrictive on the mayor. It would be difficult to see just how she would be able to execute her duties of providing political oversight in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act, which is the same act she is accused of breaching,” said Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s (Outa) provincial manager for KwaZulu-Natal, Tim Tyrrell.

Abenathi Gqomo

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