KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala wants to begin implementing the recommendations of the Moerane inquiry into political killings in the province within two months.
The move, made public by Zikalala at a media briefing last week after his state of the province address, comes at a time when investigations into a number of high-profile political killings in KwaZulu-Natal have gained momentum, with several cases currently before the courts.
The commission, chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane SC, was appointed by former premier Willies Mchunu in response to the wave of killings that swept the province ahead of the 2016 local government elections. It delivered its final report to Mchunu in September last year, after hearing months of evidence about the killings, many of which targeted ANC councillors and officials.
At the time, Mchunu came under fire from opposition parties and civil society organisations about delays in releasing the report and a failure to make public a full transcript of the evidence presented to it.
Zikalala is understood to have commissioned an implementation plan to ensure that the recommendations — which include a shake-up of the tender process and an end to political deployment in council posts — are not ignored and play a role in decreasing potential political tensions ahead of the 2021 local government elections.
Zikalala told journalists the implementation plan was being finalised before being endorsed by the Cabinet and tabled in the provincial legislature. “The implementation of the Moerane commission report must go through finalisation, go through the executive council and then be presented. And I am sure that within two months [we will] be moving to the implementation.”
While many of the recommendations were focused on the criminal justice sector, a number of steps were outlined that should be taken at national, provincial and local government level to remove drivers of political violence.
These recommendations included:
- A revision of tender procedures at local and provincial level to ensure fairness, equity, transparency, competitiveness and cost effectiveness;
- Depoliticising and professionalising the public service;
- Enforcing the separation of powers between public representatives and government officials;
- Ending deployment of unqualified individuals as government officials; and
- Investigating corrupt activities by office bearers, officials and business people against whom evidence of corruption exists.
The commission also recommended a political education process in parties to promote ethical, nonviolent behaviour among members and to defuse interparty conflicts.
Zikalala has already begun a skills audit as part of the process of weeding out unqualified public servants, with a particular focus on the province’s education department, which has been plagued by problems of ghost teachers and manipulation of employment processes.
On Tuesday, Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba, who was arrested earlier this year for the 2016 murder of ANC Youth League eMalahleni region official Wandile Ngubeni, made a brief appearance in the Newcastle regional court.