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Gumede: I'm being victimised because I'm a strong woman

Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede claimed that the State had no case against her and it was being used by those who could not stand to be led by a woman.

FILE: Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede on 29 May 2019. Picture: Nkosikona Duma/EWN.

DURBAN - Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said that she was being victimised because she's a strong woman.

Gumede addressed her supporters on Thursday after appearing in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on corruption charges linked to a 2016 waste collection tender.

She claimed that the State had no case against her and it was being used by those who could not stand to be led by a woman.

It's been over a year since Gumede and 16 others were charged with tender fraud, which is now valued at R389 million.

Their case was postponed to September after the State revealed that it was still investigating the matter.

Gumede said that the case formed part of a political witch-hunt by those against radical economic transformation and women empowerment.

"Even though the African National Congress says we are equal to men and must be given opportunities, there are still people in South Africa who refuse to accept that and who insist on oppressing women."

The State has been given six weeks to consolidate its investigation.

Her lawyer, Jay Naidoo, said that he would apply for the matter to be struck from the roll if investigations were not concluded by her next court appearance in September.

GROWING POPULARITY

Zandile Gumede's supporters said that the national lockdown due to COVID-19 had worked in her favour as she continues to campaign to be re-elected as the ANC's eThekwini regional chairperson.

Gumede's spokesperson Mzomuhle Dube said that the corruption case against her had not affected her popularity within the ANC.

"Her support is growing unexpectedly, she is actually favoured by the majority of branches in eThekwini to come back as a chairperson."

Dube said that Gumede was targeted after she complained about poor-performing service providers in eThekwini.

"When she was still the mayor, she received a complaint from the Umlazi community saying that the refuse was not being collected. That's where she actually summoned the city manager and chief financial officer and she said look: 'I don't know why you're paying the contractors because I'm receiving complaints around non-collection of the refuse in Umlazi'. It didn't take long after that and she was arrested."

Gumede insists that she's innocent because as a politician she had no authority to sign off any tenders.

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