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Moerane Commission: Politicians must take responsibility for KZN’s violent culture

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has released the long-awaited report of the Moerane Commission into the killing of politicians to the public, saying that politicians in the province needed to take responsibility for the culture of intolerance.

Mchunu, who appointed the commission in 2016 with an initial budget of R15-million, undertook to ensure that its recommendations were considered and implemented by national government.

The 424 page report made recommendations governing the conduct of political parties, the security forces and government in a bid to get to the “root causes” of the killings – which escalated from 2015 – and to prevent them from continuing.

During its more than 12 months of hearings, the Commission heard claims of South African Police Service (SAPS) complicity and direct involvement in the killings in the Glebelands hostel. Witnesses also alleged SAPS negligence in investigations into political killings in Richmond, Pongola and Durban and the direct involvement of SAPS Crime Intelligence in the Umzimkhulu area and elsewhere.

The report recommends that political parties must “take responsibility for the violent competition between their members for political positions and power”.

Parties should carry out political education about the “universal practice of peaceful political competition”, discipline their members and report those who are involved in killings to the police.

Parties should settle differences “through peaceful means’,’ the report recommends.

It also recommends that the state depoliticise and professionalise the public service, including the security and intelligence sector.

Further, government functionaries must, without exception, have the appropriate qualifications for their jobs, while “political deployment of persons as government functionaries into positions without appropriate qualifications must be discouraged and eliminated as a practice”.

“The allegations of corrupt activities and the criminal acts by politicians, public officials and business people must be vigorously investigated and those against whom there is evidence of corruption must be expeditiously prosecuted and if found guilty must be appropriately sentenced to rebuild the confidence of the public in the public service and to avoid building a culture of impunity,” it recommends.

The report also recommends that an inter-ministerial task team in the security cluster review the workings of the security agencies and that properly qualified personnel be recruited.

Political parties and state institutions should provide training so that elected public officials were “well prepared for the tasks that they are expected to carry out”.

Parties should work with civil society to “reverse the current culture of intolerance, violence and killings”, and enforce a strict code of conduct preventing incitement to violence by their members and leaders.

The report also tabulates the testimony and recommendations made by each of the witnesses who appeared, but does not include a transcript of the evidence, which civil society organisations have demanded that the Premier make public.

It also found that “senior political functionaries” in the province used

The report will be referred to national Cabinet for consideration.

Community activist Vanessa Burger, who helped secure intervention at Glebelands and who testified at the Commission, said the report’s failure to recommend action against parties implicated during the hearings, meant there was “no accountability”.

“If the Commission is unwilling to make recommendations regarding prosecutions, there can be no accountability and justice will not be done,” Burger said.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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