Just who is Zandile Gumede? A look at eThekwini's mayor

The embattled mayor, who chairs the biggest region in KZN, is one of former president Jacob Zuma’s closest allies

Just who is Zandile Gumede? A look at eThekwini's mayor

14 May 2019

At the centre of another high-profile corruption case to hit the ANC is political KwaZulu-Natal heavyweight Zandile Gumede.

She was granted R50 000 bail on Tuesday in a case in which she is accused of a string of charges, which include money laundering, corruption and racketeering.

Gumede and regional deputy secretary Mondli Mthembu handed themselves over to the police on Tuesday morning.

The eThekwini mayor, who chairs the biggest region in KwaZulu-Natal, is one of former president Jacob Zuma’s closest allies.

The 58-year-old politician rose up the ranks of the ANC, first becoming a PR councillor and party regional treasurer between 2007 and 2015.

Out of favour

During this time, Gumede led the health, safety and social services committee. She was then elected as eThekwini mayor, defeating President Cyril Ramaphosa backer and incumbent James Nxumalo for the position of regional chairperson.

Known to her loyal supporters as Mama, Gumede has fallen out of favour with some in the ANC regional and provincial circles for her stubborn resistance to the unity project.

This was evident when the provincial ANC Youth League released a statement in March lambasting her for refusing to shake the hand of its secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo.

Timeslive reported that the ANCYL in the province accused Gumede of refusing to make space for the youth.

Her 2015 campaign for regional chair was largely championed by the young lions in the province. Her reported rivalry with secretary Bheki Ntuli has led to some punting him as her successor.

Gumede's municipality came under fire for its decision to commission a music album with Zuma worth millions.

After much public outrage, Gumede halted the project, announcing that protocol had not been followed. She added that she refused to drag Zuma’s name into the mud.

Municipal strikes

The latest strike action by municipal workers from the Department of Water and Sanitation over pay discrepancies has also lifted the lid on her administration.

The workers complained that Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) members, hired by the eThekwini Municipality, had been placed in higher job grades than existing workers.

This ensured that MKMVA members received R20 000, compared to the R9 000 other Samwu workers earned. Gumede was criticised for being invisible during the protracted strike that led to violent scenes in the city.

With Gumede at the helm, the City has also been plagued with a litany of corruption and fraud related scandals. Among her detractors is the DA, which has called for the municipality to be placed under administration.