DURBAN, May 15 – The country’s largest trade union federation and ruling party alliance partner has said there is a link between political killings in KwaZulu-Natal and African National Congress (ANC) conferences.
Edwin Mkhize, the provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in KwaZulu-Natal, said on Tuesday via a press statement “these killings can be blamed [on] the persisting factionalism in the movement”.
He said blame could also be apportioned to “the build up and post branch, regional and provincial conferences” held throughout the province. “To some extent they can also be blamed [on] the alleged corruption and maladministration in provincial state departments and municipalities,” said Mkhize.
However, former ANC spokesperson and current head in the office of the presidency, Zizi Kodwa, told journalists on Monday evening that it was too early to speculate that the killings were linked to regional conferences.
The province is currently holding regional conferences in preparation for its provincial conference, at which new leadership will be chosen.
Kodwa said the problem was complex and the lack of arrests and convictions of perpetrators added to the complexity. “It is early days to link any killing to a conference,” said Kodwa.
He was briefing journalists while ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was meeting with leadership structures from three regions that had been severely affected by political killings.
Prior to that, the president had met with the family of the party’s latest slain member, former ANC councillor Musawnkosi Maqatha Mchunu, from the ANC’s Moses Mabhida region (Pietermaritzburg area). Mchunu was gunned down outside his home in KwaPata on Friday night.
Earlier in the week, Sifiso Cele, an ANC Oshabeni branch treasurer at Ray Nkonyeni Municipality from the party’s Lower South Coast region, was gunned down at his Margate home.
The “continued scourge” of political killings that had left “comrades lying cold in mortuaries” concerned Cosatu, according to Mkhize.
The South African Police Services, intelligence and judiciary had to account for their failure to apprehend suspects, he said. “The heads of these institutions must account to the public on why they should be retained while failing on their mandates.”
He said political will was needed to address factionalism.
Mkhize also said the findings of the Moerane Commission of inquiry must be released “urgently” so that the necessary actions could be taken.
Provincial premier Willies Mchunu established the commission in late 2016 to investigate political killings in the province. It sat for a year, heard numerous testimonies and concluded in March 2018. Its final report is awaited, although it remains unclear if it will be released to the public.
Over 30 ANC members have been killed in the province since 2016. Ramaphosa said on Monday that 14 members had been killed from the Moses Mabhida Region alone.