The mayor of eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal says she is not the corrupt leader she is perceived to be.
Hitting back at the media for "ongoing campaigns aimed at creating an impression that she is a corrupt leader who is influencing the awarding of tenders", Zandile Gumede said she took serious exception to claims made.
"I have noticed that some newspapers are prejudging issues even before they are given factual responses. I understand that it is not the duty of journalists to be my praise singers. Therefore, I accept constructive criticism that is backed up by facts," she said.
"However, I will never hesitate to take legal action against information peddlers who seem to be on a campaign aimed at tarnishing my good name," she warned.
The mayor vowed to pursue "every legal means" to deal decisively with those who defamed her character.
It was widely reported that the mayor was behind a R650m construction project, allegedly awarded irregularly to eight companies in 2015.
A businessman, Calvin Mathibeli, was recently prohibited from making defamatory statements against Gumede through an interdict granted in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban.
"Mathibeli, as one of the contractors awarded a tender to work on the project, alleged that Mayor Zandile Gumede had demanded a bribe of R100 000. He further alleged that she ordered the termination of the contract of his company - Calvin and Family Properties and Development," the mayor's spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, said.
Gumede said that it should be noted that the mayor had never given any instruction for illegal or criminal acts and to suggest such was defamatory. It was for that reason that she approached the High Court.
The mayor said that she has "never involved myself in tender irregularities. In addition, I have no direct involvement in advertising, adjudication, awarding and cancelation of tenders. These are the administrative functions under the direct ambit of the administration and functionaries who report to council".
The mayor reiterated her unconditional support for all initiatives aimed at fighting fraud and corruption.
She also warned communities against paying bribes to municipal employees or councillors because they were paid to perform their services.
"We are committed to training our community to understand their rights and the quality of services they are entitled to. Our view is that it is when citizens know what service to expect, that they can expose and resist any official that disrespects and abuses them by extracting bribes for services they are paid to render."
The Hawks confirmed earlier this year that they were investigating the mayor for actively facilitating money laundering, fraud and corruption, allegedly to pay back cronies who helped her political ambitions.