/ 20 September 2017

Senzo Mchunu gives explosive details on KZN killings

The  ANC's KwaZulu-Natal leader Senzo Mchunu.
The ANC's KwaZulu-Natal leader Senzo Mchunu.

The manipulation of how councillors are selected stoked political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, said former provincial premier and ANC chairperson Senzo Mchunu.

Mchunu, who was fired as premier after losing the November 2015 elective conference to current chairperson Sihle Zikalala, made the explosive disclosures at the Moerane Commission into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Last week, the elective conference outcome was declared unlawful by the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

Mchunu told how up to 10 candidates would attempt to become the ANC councillor-elect in a single branch because of the benefits that came with the post. A culture of “our turn to eat’’ has developed around council posts, with business people lining up to control the councillors and so benefit from municipal contracts.

At the same time, processes were manipulated by the dominant ANC faction, with candidates chosen by communities during the legitimate process being left out and replaced by a candidate close to that faction.

Describing the manipulation as a “highly involved rot” Mchunu said candidates were removed from the party lists because they “are not in a particular faction’’.

At branch level, factions would exclude their opponents by changing meetings times and venues without informing them and “bouncers’’ were brought into to physically intimidate people or remove them from meetings.

Branch membership lists were tampered with, meetings that did not quorate were declared legitimate and those that did quorate were closed down and called off.

Deployment was also abused to ensure that meetings took a predetermined direction and came to a particular outcome. People were expected to use their “assumed power’’ to control meetings and outcomes, to “use our brains and power regardless of counting”.

Mchunu said that from 1996 to 2011 there had been outbreaks of violence at elections between parties. After 2011 violence “has taken a new turn’’ and become a phenomenon “within and around the ANC”.

Earlier Mchunu traced the history of the political violence in the province to the 1980s and 1990s. In those years it was driven by the apartheid state machinery, which capitalised on differences between the Inkatha Freedom Party (then known as Inkatha) and the United Democratic Front/labour federation Cosatu alliance.

Political activists were targeted for assassination while communities that identified with the United Democratic Front and later the ANC were invaded. Mass killings took place right up until 1996. Thereafter a combination of focused policing and a peace process involving the political parties and civil society had brought the killings to a halt.