Worst bloodshed than ever in SA polls
by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
PRETORIA, (CAJ News) -THE just ended local government elections were by far the bloodiest in South Africa’s history.
The ruling African Congress (ANC), who fortunes took a battering during the poll, was most beset by intraparty fighting, which saw more than 20 aspirants, mainly councillors, killed in the run-up to the election.
The bloodshed was worst in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, the homeland of President Jacob Zuma, where 13 potential representatives were killed.
Leading to the elections, on Mandela Day, July 18, aspirant Bongani Skhosana of Umziwabantu municipality was killed in front of his children.
On the same day, 41-year-old Khanyisile “Malumekazi” Ngobese-Sibisi, regional secretary of the African National Congress Women’s League in the Duma region, also ANC councillor candidate, was killed when her car was shot at while to a Mandela Day event in Ladysmith.
In April, the councillor of ward 66 in Umlazi township, Zodwa Sibiya, was gunned down in front of her children while another contender identified as Themba Tobo was shot dead in his home in Richards Bay.
Another casualty of violence was Bhekithemba Goodwill Nyembe, a councillor for Nongoma who was shot dead and his wife critically injured in May.
In another incident, Nathi Hlongwa, an ANC branch chairman for Ward 12 at Msunduzi Local Municipality, was gunned down in Edenvale in Pietermaritzburg, also in May.
There was an assassination also in the Mpumalanga Province.
Michael Phelembe, an ANC branch deputy chairperson, was shot dead in Pienaar, outside Nelspruit.
Prior to election day, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, conceded some party candidates had treated the nomination process as a “life-and-death situation.”
He said some candidates were prepared to kill to retain their positions.
In addition, also linked to the intraparty violence, some five people lost their lives during violent protests that met the announcement of Thoko Didiza, ahead of favourite, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, as the ANC flagbearer in the capital Pretoria.
More than 40 buses were torched with property worth millions of Rands destroyed.
In an interview with CAJ News Africa on Saturday, political commentator and University of Pretoria professor, Tinyiko Maluleke, said the election-related murders were unacceptable.
“Political murders must be stopped quickly. At the surface it looked like party list contestation. This is patronage power. Until ANC addresses corruption and factionalism such murders will not quickly go away,” said Maluleke said.
He added: “It also looks there is trouble in the alliance of ANC and SA Communist Party. Worse still, the police were not effective.
“There were no immediate arrests, no convictions of these heinous murders. I’m not pleased with police’s handling of these murder cases and violence.”
The Pretoria-based think-tank, Institute for Security Studies, released a grisly report detailing the rising election violence in the country.
It mentioned murders characterising the run-up to the poll.
In an incident denounced as inciting murder, a councillor candidate of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Thabo Mabotja, was disqualified from the elections after a post on Facebook calling for white people to be hacked and killed.
A diplomat cited double standards by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU), European Union (EU), United States of America (USA) and United Nations (UN) for their alleged silence over the political related violence.
“Imagine all these murders had occurred in other African countries, particularly Swaziland or Zimbabwe. The elections could have been described not free and fair,” a diplomat who refused to be named said in Pretoria.
– CAJ News
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