Abahlali baseThekwini deserve respect and dignity from anyone holding public office, including mayors and councillors.
We wish to welcome the decision made by ANC Provincial Executive Committee in KwaZulu Natal that Mayor Gumede must step down for thirty days following her arrest on serious charges of corruption and money laundering. Gumede is out on R50 000 bail after being arrested on the charge of stealing R208 million of tax payers’ money, money meant for a Durban Solid Waste tender. R37 million of this money was meant to provide water and sanitation to shack settlements. Many of us in shack settlements remain without water and sanitation. One of the causes of our continued suffering is corrupt officials like Gumede.
We suffer today, not because our cities and our country cannot house and feed us all as the nation. There is enough money to ensure that everyone can live in dignity and safety. The problem is the distribution of wealth, and corruption is one of the ways in which even the very limited redistribution of wealth towards the impoverished is captured by an elite to enrich themselves at the direct expense of the poor. One of the reasons why we remain poor is because of corrupt officials like Gumede. There are many Gumedes in South Africa who have become a stumbling block to future stability of our country.
However, we are concerned that at least 62 councillors are implicated in this scandal. It will not be fair and easy for a new mayor to be surrounded by, and to work with gangsters that are ripping off our city and its people. While we appreciate the work of the Hawks and the PEC we call on the Hawks to also prosecute these councillors. These councillors and other hidden gangsters are dangerous to us who speak out against corruption.
South Africans and the world must know that this is a reason why we have lost 18 activists since 2013, some at the hands of some ANC councillors and some at the hands of the various armed forces controlled by the ANC. This is the reason why our leaders live under the shadow of death each second and each minute while we speak against corruption.
It is clear that had we not make noise and risked our lives to protest against such gangsters, and protested for the resignation of Gumede, the ANC would not have acted against her. However, 30 days leave is a joke. Her removal from her office must be made permanent. No full and credible investigation could be completed in 30 days, and the state prosecution will not be concluded in 30 days. Besides, our city deserves leaders with integrity.
Abahlali baseMzinyathi live just next to the Inanda Dam but people have no piped water for many months now. Instead of fixing few pipes and taps millions of rands are wasted on individuals who are enjoying tenders to provide water tank trucks. How much is paid to the companies that got the tender to send the trucks providing water? Who benefits when there is no piped water in that community? Who is getting rich from our continued suffering?