Durban – Despite having her pending corruption charges brought sharply back into the public eye by the Hawks’ seizure of her assets, supporters of Zandile Gumede insist she will emerge victorious in the upcoming eThekwini ANC regional conference.
They said on Thursday’s morning seizure was meant to remind the public about the “malicious and politically motivated corruption charges” aimed at hurting her chances at the conference.
However, Gumede was more cautious in a brief interview with Independent Media. She said her supporters believed that there was a political conspiracy to use the law enforcement agencies to thwart her chances.
“Please take what is said by my supporters and stick to it. That’s what is being said out there,” she said.
Asked whether she would contest for the regional chairperson position, she said branches were yet to nominate candidates and once they had done that, she would say whether she would avail herself.
Gumede then handed her phone to one of her fervent supporters, Mbongiseni Hlongwa, chairperson of eThekwini’s ward 1, the biggest ward of the ANC with more than 2000 members.
Hlongwa said the seizure of the assets was meant to present Gumede as unfit to lead but they would elect her.
“We will win this conference even if they try hard to discredit her in the eyes of the public,” he said.
Hlongwa added that the person behind the Hawks raid was Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“Cele and his Hawks team have not won a case in the province,” he said in reference to the withdrawal of charges against prominent figures in KZN.
The figures include Mluleki Ndobe, deputy KZN legislature speaker, who was accused of killing former ANC youth league secretary general Sindiso Magaqa. The charges were withdrawn in March. The other was Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba, who walked free in August.
Mahlaba blamed Cele for the charges while in the case of Ndobe, it was his supporters who pointed fingers at the police minister. KZN ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu said they would not comment on the allegations by Gumede’s supporters. “This is a matter between her and the Hawks and the ANC will not comment on that,” he said.
Speaking from Gumede’s Inanda property, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi denied claims of political interference. “We don’t want to involve ourselves in politics, that’s not our domain, ours is criminal investigations,” he said.
Political analyst Xolani Dube, of the Xubera Institute, said what the Hawks were doing to Gumede was what the Scorpions did to former president Jacob Zuma. They’re making her popular with the masses. He said it had become clear that the ANC was destroying institutions by using them to fight their internal battles.
The office of the KZN Premier refused to comment, referring questions to the provincial Department of Community Safety and Liaison. Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, had not responded at the time of going to print.