How does that old saying go? The more things change…the more they stay the same. That looks like it could be the case for the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend. The ANC in eThekwini is holding its regional conference. And despite having “stepped aside” from ANC leadership, corruption accused Zandile Gumede is looking likely to be elected as the party’s eThekwini chairperson.
Zandile Gumede and the ANC eThekwini regional conference
Gumede is the former eThekwini Mayor and faces charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. The charges stem from a R340 million tender.
The trial gets underway in July. But Gumede is currently focused on her main battle this weekend.
She is going head-to-head against current eThekwini municipality speaker Thabani Nyawose. His faction is titled “Renew, Revive and Unite”. He is seen as a strong supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gumede on the other hand, is an ally of former president Jacob Zuma. Her faction is titled “Unity”.
The eThewkini region is the largest region for the ANC. Its made up of more than 100 000 members. This region often is the deciding voice on who takes up the KZN Premier position.
While it will be close, some insiders do believe that Nyawose and his slate have a slight advantage going into the weekend’s conference.
What about the ANC step-aside rule?
This is where things get even messier. Even though Gumede has “stepped aside” from ANC party positions, she is still able to be nominated.
At the start of April, Gumede insisted that even if elected ANC eThekwini Chairperson, she will step aside until her trial is complete. This would then leave her deputy to run the region in her absence.
Since the 2017 ANC Elective Conference, the party has implemented a rule that requires all ANC members facing criminal charges, to step aside from their positions. A good example of this? Ace Magashule is no longer serving as Secretary General.
Gumede is not able to attend the conference, but according to the rules, she can send a letter to accept her nomination.
The clearly wishy-washy step aside guidelines have been criticised by just about everyone. Several ANC members insist that someone who has stepped aside as a result of criminal charges,
should not be able to stand for positions.
If Zandile Gumede is elected, Cyril Ramaphosa has another big problem on his hands. How will his message of renewal and anti-corruption possibly be taken seriously?