DURBAN - SIX ANC councillors implicated in the multimillion-rand Durban Solid Waste corruption saga were among the casualties in the eThekwini Municipality’s list of candidates for council in the upcoming local government elections.
While there remains uncertainty about whether the polls will be held this year, the ANC appears to have moved swiftly to remove tainted individuals as it attempts to present a clean image that will appeal to the electorate.
Thembelihle de Lange, Nomthandazo Shabalala, Sduduzo Khuzwayo, Mondli Mthembu, Mthokozisi Nonjiyeza and Bhekokwakhe Phewa were excluded from the list following recommendations from the Party List Committee chaired by Cyril Xaba.
According to the report, the continued retention of such members on the ANC candidates’ list posed a risk of bringing the ruling party into disrepute.
In reference to Mondli Mthembu, who is a PR councillor, the report noted that he was out on R50 000 bail after he was arrested by the Hawks over the DSW tender scandal.
“He is facing charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering. The matter is still pending before the courts. It is remanded for a pre-trial conference in November 2021.”
According to the report, the implicated councillors were set to attend the court case, which could drag on and this would draw their attention away from council work and taint the ruling party’s image.
While some have cheered the removal of the six members, in some quarters party members in the eThekwini region accused the provincial leadership of selective removal of members implicated in the matter.
They described the move as a purge of members who supported former president Jacob Zuma and were aligned with former regional chairperson Zandile Gumede.
“The people implicated in the solid waste tender are more than this, but some have clearly been left untouched. This, we can only assume, is because they are siding with the block of President Cyril Ramaphosa,” said a councillor who asked to remain anonymous.
Xaba would not be drawn into commenting on the list and how it had been compiled. “Comrade Mdumiseni Ntuli will convene a press conference shortly to brief you (the media) about everything, including our work,” said Xaba.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the fierce contestation reflected the ruling party’s membership that did not have qualifications or careers to cling to, and looked at positions in the ANC as a ticket to a better life.
“Positions in the ruling party allowed access to public office with additional benefits, and in a country with high levels of poverty and unemployment, such positions provided a lifeline. It is not about service to the people, but more about the prospect of an income where those earning it will do everything possible to protect their income base. That is why we have seen the contests becoming more intense over the years,” he said.
There are fears from some members that the disputes lodged over the candidates’ list could result in chaotic scenes similar to those during the build-up to the 2011 local government elections. In that year, disgruntled party members in the Moses Mabhida region staged a sit-in which lasted nearly a month.