Thursday, May 24, 2018

KZN, South Africa's Political Killing Field
Southern Times
By Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg ‑ True to the statement “politics is a dirty game”, South Africa’s ruling ANC party is in a mess following an upsurge in internal political killings.

KwaZulu Natal (KZN) is the worst affected province, with being a politician becoming the deadliest profession. KZN recorded three politically motivated murders last week alone.

The latest victim, ANC councillor Musawenkosi Mqatha Mchunu‚ was gunned down at his home Friday night‚ a day after he called for the elective conference in the Moses Mabhida region to be postponed.

Sibuyisele Dlamini councillor in the Zululand district was also killed in an ambush between uLundi and Nongoma on the same day as Mchunu.

Their murder came days after ANC activist Sifiso Cele was shot dead on the south coast in front of his family.

Concerned about the increasing political violence in the province that has caused serious fractures in the party, President Cyril Ramaphosa was in KZN on Monday to ascertain the cause of the fracas.

Accompanied by top party officials, the President expressed concern over the disturbances and promised bereaved families that no stone will be left unturned till the perpetrators are brought to book.

“Mchunu is the 14th leader to be killed in this region. We don’t want any more killings.

There are people who do not want peace and want to turn KwaZulu-Natal into a killing field.

We will not allow KwaZulu-Natal to be the killing field of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said while paying his respects to the murdered councillor Mchunu’s family.

“We must find those who are perpetrating these acts of killing against our people. At the same time, we want to engage with various communities so that we can form a line of defence against these types of killings‚” he added.

A clear sign that the ANC fears for the worst in the province, the President has directed the security cluster ministers to meet urgently regarding the political killings in KwaZulu-Natal and wants an urgent report back.

“I have directed the minister of police, minister of intelligence, minister of justice and minister of defence to meet as soon as possible and to give me a report about the investigations and the work that has been going on in relation to these killings.”

In 2016, KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu established the Moerane Commission to investigate politically connected violence in the province from 2011 onwards. The commission completed its investigation in March this year and its final report is awaited.

Despite heightened awareness of the problem, including the commission of inquiry, the recent murders are a clear indication that the party has been rocked by serious divisions, backbiting and factionalism. 

Inside sources confirmed to The Southern Times that the province is divided between former president Jacob Zuma and current President Ramaphosa’s factions.

“Remember the party is holding regional elective conferences ahead of the provincial conference at the end of this month. There are serious divisions in the province because there are some who maintain that it is a Zuma stronghold, hence, they are on a mission to eliminate all obstacles who support Ramaphosa. It is a serious issue. I am grateful the President visited the province to see for himself that people’s lives have been cut short simply because some people are power hungry,” said a source from the ANC, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Allegations of gate-keeping to prevent the Ramaphosa faction from dominating at the conferences have not been ruled out.  Ramaphosa supporters believe their members are being kept from participating in party processes in order to bolster the numbers of the larger faction in the province, which supports Sihle Zikalala, at the provincial conference.

Zikalala is aligned to former president Zuma while the pro-Ramaphosa faction is believed to support former eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo to rival Zikalala at the conference.

In October last year, Zikalala testified before the Moerane Commission confirming that 80 politicians had been killed in the province since 2011.

Since the beginning of 2016, 30 politically motivated deaths were recorded with 19 of those being ANC members.

“Since January 2016, the killings included 19 members of the ANC; three members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP); three members of the National Freedom Party (NFP); three members of the South African Communist Party (SACP); and one member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF),” Zikalala said last year. 

Soon after his testimony at the commission, two men from the party’s Moses Mabhida region (Pietermaritzburg area) were shot to death in separate incidents.

In November last year, former ANC branch chairperson Lungisani Mnguni was shot and killed near Camperdown while he was delivering items for a school nutrition programme.

A few days later, Sthembiso Mhlongo, the deputy regional secretary of the ANC youth league in the Moses Mabhida region, was also shot at his home in the Mpophomeni area. He died hours later in hospital. According to police, the 35-year-old opened the door for his killers, who said they were police officers.

In a separate incident, Jozini ward two Councillor Njabulo Dlamini was stabbed to death on Richards Bay’s main beach.

Two months ago, ANC local voting district coordinator Nqobizwe Mkhize was killed at his home in the Imfume area of Durban over the voter registration weekend. Despite the establishment of a special task team and a reward of up to R450,000 being offered by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks, convictions remain vague.

Police minister Bheki Cele has, however, given his officers an ultimatum to bring the perpetrators to book urgently.

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