Commissioners Vasu Gounden, chairman Marumo Moerane (SC) and professor Cheryl Potgieter from the Moerane Commission. FILE PHOTO: ANA
Durban - Politicians have manipulated state security agencies, and in some cases, have even recruited criminals to achieve their political goals.

These are some of the shocking findings contained in the much-awaited 425-page Moerane Commission report, which was tabled in the KZN Legislature yesterday by Premier Willies Mchunu.

The commission found that the recruitment of criminals had resulted in the “complex matrix of criminal and political associations that also lead to the murder of politicians”.

Regarding the manipulation of state security agencies, it was found “there was ample evidence that acts of omission and commission by the police through incompetence or political manipulation had led to the loss of public confidence in the criminal justice system, especially the police service and security agencies, including crime intelligence, national intelligence, and specialised policing and prosecution agencies”.

The Moerane Commission was established in October 2016 to probe the killing of political leaders in KwaZulu-Natal.

Before concluding its work in May this year, the commission held many hearings across the province where it heard evidence from political parties, religious formations, academics and relatives of murdered politicians.

In its findings the commission said the murder of political figures was rife at local level, involving mainly councillors, potential councillors and branch leaders of various political parties.

“The barriers of entry to becoming a councillor are extremely low. Essentially, if one is a popular person without any academic or vocational qualifications, one is able to become a councillor.

“Accession to the position of councillor puts one in close proximity to the awarding of tenders and creates the opportunity for the manipulation of the tender process for personal benefit,” the commission’s findings stated.

It was for these reasons that the election of councillors resulted in fierce competition and manipulation of voting for those positions, the commission further found.

It stated that while educational qualifications should never be made a requirement for public office, as this would violate the rights of individuals to hold public office, political parties and the state should provide effective and appropriate training for elected officials.

The commission also found evidence that meetings of political parties were manipulated to marginalise some in the battle between factions.

This often resulted in violent attacks and retaliatory attacks “which have been at the core of a number of murders of politicians”.

The commission has recommended that measures be taken to ensure that tenders are awarded in a fair, equitable and transparent manner.

“The state must investigate this matter and where necessary revise its procedures to ensure that it complies with the constitutional provisions of fairness, equity, transparency, competitiveness and cost effectiveness.”

It further recommended that the state must depoliticise and professionalise the public service in a bid to rebuild a state that is driven by service delivery and not patronage and personal accumulation of wealth.

“Political deployment of persons as government functionaries into positions without the appropriate qualifications must be discouraged and eliminated as a practice.”

Tabling the report, Mchunu said the recommendations would be referred to President Cyril Ramaphosa and other relevant state institutions for implementation.

The provincial government would also do its bit to ensure that some of the recommendations are implemented, he said.

“In respect of remedial steps to be taken by the political parties, we will request the Speaker (of the legislature) to refer the recommendations to the forum of political party leaders in the legislature as well as to the multiparty political intervention committee,” said Mchunu.

He said the recommendation regarding the overhauling of the tender system would be referred to the national and provincial treasuries, while the de-politicisation of the public service would be referred to the Public Service Commission.

Political parties welcomed the release of the report.

However, Vusi Khoza of the EFF cautioned that the report needed to be handled in a mature way so that it did not add fuel to the fire.

The NFP’s Vikizitha Mlotshwa said the report was long overdue and that the premier should persuade Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency in the province as there were not enough police personnel to combat political killings.

Blessed Gwala of the IFP said there was a tendency for commission of inquiry reports not to be acted upon.

Gwala complained that there were many cases where IFP members had been killed, and no arrests had been made.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said the report was a damning indictment of the ANC.

He said those politicians who hired hitmen should be exposed.

MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Mxolisi Kaunda said it was the ANC that had called for the establishment of the commission because the ANC, “as the leader of society”, viewed it as its historical mission to ensure that there was peace.

The Mercury