Battered, bruised, but KZN ANC ‘will roar’ in poll
Not even murder, fraud or infighting can thwart the ANC's victory in KZN, says a political analyst
With fewer than 50 days before the highly anticipated general elections on May 8, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is confident that it will cruise to victory and retain control of the province despite the challenges it has faced over the past four years.
On Tuesday, the ANC launched the election countdown watch at its provincial headquarters, Dr Pixley Ka Seme House in the Durban CBD, which is aimed at mobilising support for the party ahead of the polls.
At the launch it boldly declared it would win KZN.
But in an ironic twist of fate, the launch took place at the same time as one its senior leaders – Umzimkhulu District Municipality mayor and former ANC deputy secretary in KZN Mluleki Ndobe – appeared in court in connection with the murder of ANC Youth League secretary Sindiso Magaqa.
Magaqa was shot on July 13 in 2017 in an ambush in Ibisi village outside Umzimkhulu‚ a violence-ridden town in southern KwaZulu-Natal. He succumbed to gunshot wounds two months later while recovering from hospital.
A close friend of Magaqa, Thabiso Zulu, has claimed he was killed because he wanted to expose corruption in the tender for upgrading the Umzimkhulu Memorial Hall, which ballooned from R4m to R37m, even though the work has not been completed.
Magaqa’s killing and a spate of other murders believed to have been politically motivated prompted KZN premier Willies Mchunu to establish the Moerane Commission of Inquiry to investigate the causes of the killings, mostly believed to have been intra-party killings between ANC officials over state resources.
The commission was point in its findings. Its recommendations included that corrupt activities and criminal acts by politicians, public officials and people against whom there was evidence of corruption must be vigorously investigated, expeditiously prosecuted if found guilty, and appropriately sentenced to avoid a culture of impunity.
It also recommended, as a matter of priority, an urgent investigation into politicians, public officials and business people associated with corrupt activities in the public service.
The commission also recommended that a task team of security cluster ministers be set up immediately by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look into political killings and review the workings of the security agencies.
Ndobe’s arrest on Sunday followed months of work by the task team.
The ANC in the province also recently saw the resignation of its embattled deputy chairperson, Mike Mabuyakhulu, who is cited among the five main roleplayers in a fraud‚ corruption and money-laundering case relating to a failed jazz festival five years ago that cost taxpayers R28m.
The province has also been dogged by a spate of service delivery protests during which public buildings have been set alight by residents aggrieved by the failure of the government to address their concerns.
But ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala seemed unfazed by all of this during Tuesday’s election clock countdown, telling a crowd of ANC faithful who braved the scorching heat that the ANC had done a lot in the past 25 years in government.
He also told them that during the party’s manifesto launch in the province in January, the organisation had committed itself to working with the people of SA to make the country better.
“We’re saying we must fight crime and make sure that our townships and rural areas are safe. We’re saying we must grow the country’s economy and that the economy must be brought back to the our people. And we are saying if we grow the economy we must bring back the land to the people and that industries must be opened up to create job opportunities,” said Zikalala.
He said if the ANC won the elections on May 8, its focus should be on the masses, but that if it did not win it would mean a regression to the past.
“We’re saying the future of this country is in the ANC. We must make sure that all people vote for the ANC. As the ANC we’re not in the struggle of competing with others when it comes to the elections.”
The ANC in the province has promised it will embark on an aggressive push by mobilising support across the breadth and length of the province where it will fight it out with the DA and Inkatha Freedom Party for votes. But it remains to be seen whether the DA and IFP can make any serious dent in the ANC come May 8.
Political analyst Protas Madlala believes the ANC will win the election while the DA and IFP will slug it out for the title of official opposition.
“I think they will win because they are not facing any formidable opposition, but they must take it for granted. I think they are fairly safe in KZN,” said Madlala.
He said Ndobe’s arrest for Magaqa’s murder and Mabuyakhulu’s resignation over fraud and corruption will not have any impact on the ANC.
“Mabuyakhulu showed leadership by voluntarily stepping down, but that does not mean he was admitting guilt. The mayor’s arrest could be in the ANC’s favour because it shows something is being done to stamp out the killing of leaders, but it does not mean that he is guilty.”