Murders rock ANC
Twelve political hits on party leaders since 2009 spark panic before Mangaung
The ANC is panicking about a spate of assassinations and has assembled a task team that could result in a nationwide investigation.
City Press has learnt that the governing party has appointed its deputy general manager, Uriel Abrahamse, to investigate the conviction of former Rustenburg mayor Matthews Wolmarans, who was found guilty of masterminding ANC councillor Moss Phakoe’s murder.
This comes five months before the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe ordered the investigation.
On Thursday, the party’s national executive committee (NEC) discussed the matter of party-related killings.
Recent acts of political violence within the ANC – caused by competition over resources, corruption and factionalism – are upping political temperatures, and creating suspicion and mistrust.
While there is no official tally of assassinations or outbreaks of political violence, a City Press investigation shows that at least 12 current and former ANC leaders have been murdered in three provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Mpumalanga – since 2009.
The number of acts of political violence are much higher and cover almost all the ANC provincial structures around the country, with the Eastern Cape and North West worst hit by comrade-on-comrade violence.
ANC Free State chairperson Ace Magashule apparently told the NEC meeting, “comrades set each other up” in murder cases.
He is said to have been referring to the murder of Noby Ngombane, who was head of the Free State government’s policy monitoring and evaluation unit. Ngombane was shot dead in March 2005 at his house in Bloemfontein.
Magashule reportedly said some ANC leaders could have been serving jail terms for Ngombane’s murder because they were “randomly suspected” simply because they differed with Ngombane politically.
After Magashule spoke, “no one said a word”, said an NEC member who attended the meeting. Magashule could not be reached for comment.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikalala told City Press that last weekend’s alliance summit in the province had called for intervention in relation to political deaths.
He said his province would be pushing Luthuli House to lobby the police for a more effective investigative approach.
“We believe a national team should be appointed to investigate the cases in the province, not only those involving ANC members but political killings affecting all parties,” Zikalala said.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he was not prepared to talk about “discussions that are still ongoing in the lekgotla”.
The ANC NEC had its annual lekgotla this weekend.
Discussions about an investigation into political killings also follows the death this week of KwaZulu-Natal ANC member Nhlakanipho Shabane.
He spent almost a month in a coma after being shot in a drive-by shooting that also claimed the life of Hibiscus Coast councillor and ANC Youth League leader Wandile Mkhize.
Shabane died in the same week that the case against two alleged killers of ANC Mpumalanga Arts and Culture spokesperson Sammy Mpatlanyane was withdrawn.
Mpatlanyane was gunned down in January 2010 for allegedly blowing the whistle on corruption related to the construction of the Mbombela World Cup stadium.
The collapse of the Mpatlanyane case may mean that his killers, and those who planned his shooting, will never be brought to book.
Other high-profile ANC-linked killings include:
» The murder of Ehlanzeni (Mpumalanga) chief whip and mayoral contender John Ndlovu in Thulamahashe in 2011;
» The murder of a whistle-blower, Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala, at his home in KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga in 2009;
» The murder of Dumisani “Bomber” Ntshangase, a former SACP provincial executive committee member, in Mpumalanga in 2010;
» The fatal poisoning of controversial Mpumalanga politician James Nkambule in 2010;
» The murder of Mkhize and Shabane in KwaZulu-Natal immediately after last month’s ANC policy conference; and
» The murders of ANC eThekwini regional secretary S’bu Sibiya and councillor Wiseman Mshibe.
Now ANC provincial leaders and alliance partners are calling for the establishment of a national police task team to probe the killings.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Sihle Zikalala told City Press that apart from the killings of Mshibe, Sibiya, Mkhize and Shabane, at least two other local-level leaders had been killed in disputes at branch level.
“A national team with all the necessary resources and dedication should be dealing with these killings. We cannot allow this trend to continue.”
Zikalala said the killings and incidents of violence create “instability” through the loss of capable leaders, and the “negative sentiments and perceptions they create in the organisation”.
He refused to speculate on the reasons for the killings, but said there were “challenges around greed, challenges around resources and challenges of powermongering”.
ANC national spokesperson Keith Khoza said that the final report on the killing of Rustenburg councillor Moss Phakoe – ordered by Matthews Wolmarans and executed by his driver, Enoch Matshaba – would assist in determining if there was a pattern of violence or killings.
“The ANC is opposed to any acts of criminality. We would encourage any person with information to come forward and assist the police. They must deal decisively, irrespective of who commits the crime,” Khoza said.
“If the investigations by police confirm that the killings are politically motivated and show the motivation behind the killings, the ANC would certainly look into it with a view to addressing the political concerns that may come out of the investigation,” Khoza said.
KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas described the ANC tensions in the province as “dreadful”.
“There are long-standing cadres who survived the political violence with Inkatha who are now no longer able to go to night meetings as they fear being attacked,” said De Haas.
De Haas says tensions have been related to both leadership tussles and whistle-blowing over corruption at municipal and provincial level.
De Haas says the tensions escalate around party and government elections.
“People are worried about their safety, especially if they speak out about corruption,” De Haas said.
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