Pietermaritzburg - A post matric qualification and security clearance should be the minimum benchmark for public representatives, former African National Congress (ANC) activist Siyanda Mhlongo said on Tuesday.

Giving evidence before the Moerane Commission, Mhlongo suggested that this could help in dealing with the political killings that have engulfed the ruling party in KwaZulu-Natal.

He warned that the killings had to be attended to quickly before they spread to other parts of South Africa. He also recommended political education for the general public so that they do not get swayed by unscrupulous politicians.

“From president down to councillors public representatives must have agreed academic qualification, we are 23 years in democracy, there is no way we can blame Bantu education,” said Mhlongo. 

He said absence of academic qualification downgrade quality of leadership. 

“In the next elections all public representatives must have matric. This will eliminate careerists, opportunists and comtsotsis. If you look at the calibre of our public representatives standards have gone down,” he insisted.   

Mhlongo also dismissed suggestions of a third force behind the killings in KZN, a position that was advanced by KZN ANC Secretary Super Zuma when giving evidence to the commission a few weeks ago. 

He said by fingering a third force element created a "smokescreen" as it was embarrassing to the ruling party that members were killing each other. 

“It is factionalism and practice inside the movement that attract criminals. These assassinations have nothing to do with third force; the ANC must do its soul searching and confront its weaknesses."

Asked whether a post matric qualification would not discriminate against those with lower levels of education, Mhlongo cited the example of China which he said had followed such a model and had resulted in low levels of corruption. 

He called for swift measures to deal with the killings and said it was not KZN problem, but a challenge facing South Africa.