This past weekend, a young man who was the chairperson of the ANC Youth League Coastal College branch was shot and killed on his return from the KZN provincial conference.
The conference had been postponed several times and even court-interdicted due to alleged divisions among Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa supporters. The conference finally happened last week and was successful enough that both ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule gushed at the “unity” that was achieved. But this is unity that was achieved through the blood of a young man, Bongani “Usher “ Mkhize.
The usual chorus of “what a loss” was sung all round. But this is nothing unusual in the new normal that has been allowed to define disagreements within the ruling party.
Premier Willies Mchunu even set up the Moerane Commission to investigate the killings in KZN. The problem is that the commission might have come a little too late.
Killings within the ANC in KZN were allowed to go on for far too long. People are only shocked at who gets killed, but not really at the fact that these killings are happening. To be fair to the KZN ANC, they’re not the only province that has normalised the elimination of political opponents or threats. It is a method that is used in other provinces, too.
Mpumalanga used to be the ANC’s centre of resolving differences through the barrel of a gun . And at some point it nearly became acceptable.
When Jimmy Mohlala, then Mbombela council speaker, was assassinated for exposing corruption around the 2010 building of the Mbombela Stadium, for some time it looked like the top had been blown wide open because here was a clear case of a senior ANC leader who was killed for fighting corruption.
But then the trail went cold. The current deputy president of the country, David Mabuza, headed the ANC in Mpumalanga for a long time – with these assassinations going on – but nothing tangible was done to nip the culture in the bud.
While no single leader can be held responsible for all that happens on their watch, it is a terrible indictment of the ruling party as a whole that a leader of the province where such killings were commonplace was elevated to the second most powerful position in the country.
The South African Local Government Association released a report last October that revealed 43 municipal councillors were killed nationwide between 2011 and 2016. Twenty-two of those killed were in KZN, with the rest shared between the other provinces. It appears these murders have been accepted as normal in the country and in the ANC .
When former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa was shot in July 2017 and died two months later, the ANC gave him a beautiful send-off.
Most speakers lamented his death as a waste of brilliant talent and vowed that his killers would be brought to book. But through it all, the sense that his death was part of a greater rotten whole was not brought to the fore.
This prompted one social media associate to say of political killings in the ruling party: “The ANC will kill you, and bury you.”
The ANC owes itself and its young leaders a better working environment.