Late last month, the ANC allegedly launched efforts behind the scenes to get former eThekwini mayor and new KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Zandile Gumede to resign from her position, City Press has learnt.
But the plan did not take off as ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, who was expected to travel to the province for a Letsema programme on the weekend of May 21/22, could not make the trip due to the funeral of former Johannesburg mayor Mpho Moerane.
Gumede faces charges of corruption related to tenders during her stint in the eThekwini metro, and is affected by the ANC’s rule that leaders charged with a crime should step aside until they are cleared.
City Press understands that Mashatile was delegated by Luthuli House to quietly persuade Gumede to resign – just six weeks after her election – together with co-accused Zoe Tshabalala, the regional treasurer. She and Gumede stepped aside after being elected.
Former ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza denied there were attempts to persuade Gumede to step down.
Yesterday, Khoza said: There was no such intention by the [treasurer-general]. The matter of Gumede hasn’t been a subject of discussion involving [Mashatile].
In April, Mandla Msibi was elected to the Mpumalanga ANC treasurer post, despite facing murder and attempted murder charges. He stepped aside after being elected.
Following the election of criminally accused individuals, the ANC national executive committee made a decision that leaders who had stepped aside should not accept nominations to leadership positions. The party said that the trio of Gumede, Tshabalala and Msibi would not be affected by this new directive.
Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule warned last week that the plot to get Gumede and Msibi to resign would fail: “We are aware of these hidden plans and we will counter them.”
Gumede’s allies this week said the lobby was stillborn, especially as a new forum of regional leaders was resuscitated to guide structures going into the ANC KwaZulu-Natal conference next month and the national conference in December.
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Bonga Hlomuka, the Josiah Gumede regional secretary, said: “The purpose of the forum was to foster a culture of unity in accordance with the historic culture of open engagement and consultation in the ANC. It does away with the alien practice that has emerged, which excludes grassroots leaders of the ANC from key decisions, be it leadership or policy.”
He continued:The forum will consider the step-aside rule in its totality and seeks to give it proper political context in accordance with the aims and objectives of the ANC.
He said the principle was that the step-aside rule should not be implemented “in a partisan manner which seeks to isolate and vilify elected leaders of the ANC”, adding that the forum always existed, but had lost its effectiveness after former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s election to national leadership, which “created a vacuum”.
The forum worked to unite the ANC and forge a common objective.
“The election of [former president Jacob] Zuma in 2007 is one example, and another poignant one was the election of comrade Mkhize as treasurer-general of the ANC in 2012.”