EDITORIAL | A leader held for murder: what has SA come to?
The recurring killings and violence in the run-up to local government elections are alarming and unacceptable
Local government elections are looming but instead of campaigning, the ANC’s elections manager in one of its strongholds has been arrested for double murder and attempted murder. In what the ruling party has described as a serious blow to its election strategy in Mpumalanga, premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane sent Mandla Msibi packing this week, appointing Cogta MEC Busisiwe Shiba to act in his position as MEC for agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs. Mtshweni-Tsipane described Msibi as a “comrade of mine” whom she held in “very high regard”, but added she hoped “this unfortunate event will afford him the opportunity to reflect deeply”.
While the ANC’s swift action to remove him from office should be applauded, it is a tragedy that a senior politician in our ruling party stands accused of shooting dead two people, allegedly in an elections list scuffle, in Mbombela in August. The ANC’s Mpumalanga secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali told TimesLIVE she hoped his removal would show prospective voters the party was serious about getting rid of the rot.
If only it were that simple. DA provincial leader Jane Sithole has questioned his appointment in the first place, claiming the executive council knew he had a dubious history. She recently told the Limpopo-based Capricorn FM (https://www.capricornfm.co.za/da-mpumalanga-concerned-by-the-latest-charges-against-mec-msibi/) Msibi had been in out of courts since 2017, on charges such as malicious damage to property, robbery and assault. The Mail & Guardian (https://mg.co.za/politics/2021-10-13-murder-accused-mec-mandla-msibi-asked-to-step-aside/) reported he was accused of vandalising a vehicle belonging to a councillor in 2017. In February 2018, The Citizen (https://www.citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/local-news/1817449/mbombela-speaker-arrested/) reported he was arrested for damaging the property of community members who dared accuse him of corruption at a meeting. It raises serious questions over how he got his job in the first place. He became agriculture MEC in February, long after the Jacob Zuma era. Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC is campaigning on the ticket of a new dawn of clean governance, but Msibi became a member of the provincial legislature on its watch. ..