DURBAN, May 18 – The African Christian Democratic Party has added its voice to the growing list of political parties, civil society groups, and citizens calling on criminally charged eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede to step down.
“The ACDP believes that the eThekwini municipality will not function as it could with mayor Zandile Gumede at the helm. We therefore add our voice to the many calling on Gumede to step aside,” ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said on Saturday.
Meshoe said the ACDP was making the call after studying a copy of the “damning affidavit” submitted to the Durban Commercial Crimes Court by the lead investigator in the case.
“Should Gumede not step aside of her own volition – and there is no indication as yet that she will – the African National Congress must, without delay, instruct her to do so.
“This is necessary to ensure service delivery at the municipality continues, but more importantly, that service delivery improves. Gumede stepping aside is also imperative to ensure municipal witnesses in the case are not intimidated,” said Meshoe.
Gumede, who is also the chairperson of the ANC eThekwini region – handed herself over to police on Tuesday morning, as did co-accused ANC councillor Mondli Mthembu and businessman Craig Poonan.
They have been charged in connection with tender fraud for a 2016 Durban Solid Waste (DSW) contract for which the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) says no work was done. The tender was for R208 million.
Several other people were arrested two weeks ago for their alleged role in the same case. All of the suspects were released on bail and will appear in court again in August.
Meshoe said the ACDP called on the governing party “to view with distaste and severity the multiple graft charges laid against its mayor”.
“eThekwini municipality controls a budget of over R50 billion and has to provide services to about three and a half million residents. It is a trough of delight for those wanting to feast unfettered on public funds,” said Meshoe.
He said Gumede stepping aside would “immediately” remove the fear and tension being experienced at the municipality.
It was revealed in court on Tuesday that several of the whistle-blowers in the case against Gumede came from within the municipality. The State said its case against the mayor was expedited to protect witnesses from possible intimidation.
“Should Gumede be innocent of the multiple charges, she should not have a problem with stepping aside to allow the continuing investigation to proceed unhindered. This will also reflect some modicum of character on the mayor’s part,” said Meshoe. (ANA)