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It is a sorry reflection on the state of our democracy when legitimately chosen public representatives and appointed officials have to be shielded from hostile, lethal elements.
It is even more bewildering when those deadly foes turn out to be comrades, or politically like-minded at least.
The burial on Sunday of Hibiscus Coast councillor Wandile Mkhize, 34, gunned down near his home in the Margate area on the night of June 30, was plain evidence that bodyguards are in some instances more than status symbols nowadays in our political theatre.
Then there were the assassinations of eThekwini councillors Wiseman Mshibe, outside his Montclair home on March 1 last year, and S’bu Sibiya in Inanda a year ago tomorrow. No wonder eThekwini’s municipal manager, Sibusiso Sithole, feels threatened. Though he is blaming the outcome of the Manase audit report, he has been protected since he took the hot seat at the Durban City Hall.
The same sense of peril goes for Durban metro police chief Eugene Nzama, who believes his knowledge of crooked links between senior council officials, city councillors and the taxi industry are placing him in grave jeopardy.
President Zuma speaks of “evil forces of darkness hell-bent on dividing our movement and creating mistrust”. This may be overly conspiratorial.
KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC leader, Zweli Mkhize, is probably nearer the mark in expressing concern at a grim mix of politics, criminality and business interests.
This suggests a wayward political culture, a dominant party that does not have the command over its own structures and supporters that it should. Anarchy and chaos are not far off when public representatives and officials, especially those of a popularly elected government, are unable to freely circulate or simply do their jobs because of fear.