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Deadly build-up to elections in KZN; three ward councillor candidates killed in October

At least six people in KwaZulu-Natal have lost their lives because of the local government polls. File Picture: Chris Collingridge 232

At least six people in KwaZulu-Natal have lost their lives because of the local government polls. File Picture: Chris Collingridge 232

Published Nov 1, 2021

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Elections

DURBAN - IN THE build-up to Monday’s local government elections, ward councillor candidates Siyabonga Mkhize, Thulani Shangase and Dumisani Qwabe were killed in KwaZulu-Natal.

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Mkhize was an ANC ward 101 candidate in the eThekwini Municipality, Shangase an EFF ward 20 candidate in Pietermaritzburg and Qwabe was an NFP ward 17 candidate in Nongoma.

In September three women, Ncami Shange, Beatrice Nzama and Philisiwe Jili, were shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Inanda outside a local primary school. Five people were injured. They were all at the school to vote for a ward councillor candidate.

Siyabonga Mkhize was the ANC ward 101 candidate in eThekwini.

On Monday, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni was expected to visit voting districts under Ilembe District Municipality, to monitor the local government elections after several areas in the district were red-flagged by police as hotspots. Nkonyeni would be in the Ndwedwe, KwaDukuza and Mandeni local municipalities.

Nkonyeni appealed to all political parties to tolerate each other.

The department said that in an effort to ensure free and fair 2021 local government elections, the Department of Community Safety and Liaison together with the Electoral Commission of SA launched district multi-party political intervention committees. The aim was to promote a stable environment where political contestants are able to campaign with no disruptions.

Dumisani Qwabe NFP was the ward 17 candidate in Nongoma.

On Sunday, Police Minister Bheki Cele was in KZN ahead of the elections. The purpose of the visit was to also assess the readiness of law enforcement in some of the identified areas of concern.

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In the 21st issue of the Risk Bulletin of illicit economies in Eastern and Southern Africa, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC) reiterated that KwaZulu-Natal was a hotspot for political hits, which have often spiked around election time.

The GI-TOC said the exercise of democracy appeared to bring with it a spike in politically-linked assassinations.

Thulani Shangase was the EFF ward 20 candidate in Pietermaritzburg.

“Our monitoring of assassination trends in South Africa has found, in certain volatile provinces, that violence increases around election times,” the GI-TOC said.

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It said the assassination of whistle-blowers and local government elections were two of the most common types of politically motivated assassinations in the database.

It said the targeted killing of ward councillors, or candidates for councillors, leading up to local government elections was not new. Their database showed that in the lead-up to elections the increase in competition for ward council nominations often ended in violence as candidates “take out the competition”.

“The position of ward councillor provides not only status and connections within the community but also comes with a significant financial benefit: ward councillors for the municipality of eThekwini, KZN, for example, are estimated to earn around R400 000 a year, almost 10 times the national minimum wage (around R45 000 per year). This financial incentive may in part drive the trend for eliminating the competition,” the GI-TOC said.

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“Although councillors are barred from serving on any tender committees, they allegedly often have influence over the outcome through their connections. Being elected as a councillor is also considered one of the key first steps in climbing the political ladder.”

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