ANC expects big turnout as ex-mayor Zandile Gumede returns to court
Supporters of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede are expected to descend on Durban's high court in numbers as she makes an appearance on Tuesday, alongside 21 others accused of fraud, corruption and racketeering.
Gumede faces more than 2,000 charges related to the R320m solid waste project.
Ntando Khuzwayo, spokesperson for ANC branches in region, said they had devised a strategy to have two groups attend the matter which has been set down for two days.
“Definitely there is going to be a big turnout outside court. We are expecting a lot more supporters now that the lockdown restrictions have eased,” said Khuzwayo.
Gumede is charged alongside former city manager Sipho Nzuza, who parted ways with the municipality after a full council voted in favour of his contract being terminated.
Nzuza had 10 months remaining in his five-year contract with the metro.
Gumede is being represented by advocate Jay Naidoo. The state plans to prove how Gumede and Nzuza received kickbacks from waste-collection service providers.
Khuzwayo blasted the state for stalling the matter which dates back to 2018. He labelled Gumede’s court wrangles as a political ploy used to tarnish her reputation.
“We remain adamant that these court postponements are a carefully planned delaying tactic. This person was arrested almost four years ago and the trial has not really gained much traction. This leaves more questions,” said Khuzwayo.
He said they are confident that by July they will be ready to have the trial commence.
Gumede is touted for the ANC eThekwini chair position. She is expected to go head-to-head with eThekwini municipal speaker Thabani Nyawose. According to Khuzwayo, Gumede’s popularity hadn’t waned despite being stripped of her position.
He said Gumede had been nominated in well over 70% of the branches. .
“There are sentiments we are getting from the ground suggesting that the delay of the ANC conference is linked to Gumede’s unwavering popularity,” said Khuzwayo.
Asked how Gumede was feeling in the face of legal battles, Khuzwayo said she was in ‘high spirits’ and had held her head above water.
“Umama is doing well and is going about her business as a member of the provincial legislature. Gumede is also a committed community worker who rolls up her sleeves when required. That is keeping her busy,” said Khuzwayo.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said it was unlikely that the much-awaited conference would take place this weekend as they were awaiting outcomes of the audits from the branch general meetings held at the weekend.
“These outcomes will be coming from the national office,” said Ntombela.
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