Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa. PHOTO: Twitter

In The News South Africa

Political killings becoming ‘permanent’ feature in KwaZulu-Natal politics, says IFP

DURBAN, September 16  – It is of serious and grave concern that the killing of politicians has “become a permanent feature” of the political landscape in KwaZulu-Natal, and the slow pace of police interventions in curbing political violence is worrisome, the Inkatha Freedon Party said on Sunday.

The IFP had received with shock and sadness the news of the killing of Zakhele Joseph Mazibuko, 44, IFP publicity secretary in the UThukela district, who was shot dead in an ambush between Estcourt and Colenso shortly after leaving an IFP district meeting on Saturday night, IFP spokesman Mkhuleko Hlengwa said.

At the time of his death, Mazibuko was occupational and health manager at the UThukela district municipality, he said.

“While we wish not to speculate on the nature of the reasons of this tragedy, but it is of serious and grave concern that the killing of politicians has become a permanent feature of the political landscape of KwaZulu-Natal.

“The slow pace of police interventions in curbing political violence is overwhelmingly worrisome. The SAPS [South African Police Service] and other law enforcement agencies are clearly weak and poorly capacitated to deal with political violence,” Hlengwa said.

Mazibuko was a committed and dedicated leader of the IFP, who served the community with integrity. The IFP and the community of UThukela had been “robbed by agents of darkness and enemies of peace” of a hardworking servant of the people. “We are indeed poorer because of this untimely loss.”

“This prevailing culture of violence does not bode well for free and fair elections next year that are also free from fear. We call for peace and calm during this time and allow for the investigation to run its full course. The IFP extends its most heartfelt condolences to the Mazibuko family and friends of comrade Zakes,” Hlengwa said.

Mazibuku’s murder comes just days before the final report of the Moerane Commission of inquiry into political killings in the province is to be presented at the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Thursday.

Mazibuko is the second IFP councillor to be killed this year and one of scores of politicians killed in KwaZulu-Natal since 2011, which prompted premier Willies Mchunu to establish the Moerane Commission in October 2016.

In May, IFP PR councillor and Zululand district chairman Samkelo Dlamini was shot dead on the main road in Ulundi. On the same night in an unrelated incident, African National Congress activist and former councillor Musawenkosi Maqatha Mchunu was shot dead as he was exiting his vehicle at kwaPata in the Pietermaritzburg area.

Arrests were made last week for Mchunu’s killing. The six suspects, including an ANC councillor, will appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday.

Although numbers are difficult to confirm, due in part to the definition of a political killing, the ANC told the Moerane Commission in October last year that according to the party’s own calculations, which were based on law enforcement reports, 80 politicians had been killed in the province since 2011.

Thirty people from various political parties had died since the start of 2016, according to the testimony of ANC provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala. The killings included 19 members of the ANC; three members of the IFP; three members of the National Freedom Party; three members of the South African Communist Party; and one member of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Zikalala.

Murders committed since Zikalala’s testimony shifts the total closer to 90 since 2011. Independent researcher and KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas has placed the number at over 100 for the same period.

The National Freedom Party has reiterated its call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency in KwaZulu-Natal before the national and provincial elections next year, following the murder of yet another politician in the province.

An Inkatha Freedom Party local government councillor was killed in an apparent ambush between Estcourt and Colenso in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday night.

Confirming the incident via Twitter on Sunday, IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Zakhele Mazibuko was killed on Saturday night “in an ambush between Estcourt and Colenso shortly after leaving a party meeting”. According to Hlengwa, Mazibuko was IFP Uthukela district publicity secretary.

South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele also confirmed the incident with the African News Agency on Sunday morning.

NFP KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Vikizitha Mlotshwa conveyed condolences to Mazibulo’s family, friends, and members of the IFP.

Killing of politicians in the province had become “the order of the day”, which threatened the democratic process and “kills the moral for young women and men to participate in political parties”, Mlotshwa said.

Therefore, the NFP continued to urge Ramaphosa to heed the party’s call for an immediate state of emergency to be declared in KwaZulu-Natal. “Crime statistics and political killings in the province have shown that the provincial government alone cannot tackle and reduce the number,” Mlotshwa said.

Mazibuku’s murder comes just days before the final report of the Moerane Commission of inquiry into political killings in the province is to be presented at the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Thursday.

Mazibuko is the second IFP councillor to be killed this year and one of scores of politicians killed in KwaZulu-Natal since 2011, which prompted premier Willies Mchunu to establish the Moerane Commission in October 2016.

Although numbers are difficult to confirm, due in part to the definition of a political killing, the ANC told the Moerane Commission in October last year that according to the party’s own calculations, which were based on law enforcement reports, 80 politicians had been killed in the province since 2011.

Thirty people from various political parties have died since the start of 2016, according to the testimony of ANC provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala. Since January 2016 the killings included 19 members of the ANC; three members of the IFP; three members of the NFP; three members of the South African Communist Party; and one member of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Zikalala.

Murders committed since Zikalala’s testimony shifts the total closer to 90 since 2011. Independent researcher and KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas has placed the number at over 100 for the same period. (ANA)

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