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Durban - A prominent KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress activist and an Inkatha Freedom Party municipal councillor were shot dead in two separate incidents on Friday night, shattering hopes that KwaZulu-Natal is moving closer to solving its political killings crisis.

According to Mike Mabuyakhulu, convenor of the ANC’s provincial task team (interim leadership) in the province, ANC activist Musawenkosi Maqatha Mchunu was shot as he was exiting his vehicle at his home in the Pietermaritzburg area of the ANC’s Moses Mabhida Region on Friday night.

Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) on Saturday morning, Mabuyakhulu called the murder “cold-blooded” and described Mchunu as “a well-known comrade and activist”.

“Mchunu was very active and vocal about his concerns about circumstances leading up to regional conferences in the province. He was one of the people who had convened a press conference in Margate this week to express concerns,” said Mabuyakhulu.

Disgruntled members from divided ANC regions, including the lower South Coast, Moses Mabhida, Harry Gwala, Abaqulusi, and eThekwini held the press conference at the Margate Hotel.

The factions are aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa and are adamant that the party’s provincial conference - tentatively set for the end of this month - should not proceed until issues about selective membership and "gatekeeping" are resolved. Regional conferences are currently being held throughout the province to prepare members for the provincial conference, where the new leadership will be elected.

The Ramaphosa faction believes their members are being kept from participating in party processes in order to bolster the numbers of the larger faction in the province, which supports Sihle Zikalala, at the provincial conference. Zikalala is the co-ordinator of the provincial task team, and he and Mabuyakhulu have been tasked with leading the party to ready itself for the provincial conference.

Mabuyakhulu said Zikalala and ANC national executive committee member Zweli Mkhize were expected to visit the family of the deceased activist on Saturday.

In a separate incident, IFP PR councillor and Zululand district chairman Samkelo Dlamini was shot dead in Ulundi on Friday night while he was travelling.

IFP KwaZulu-Natal MPL and deputy national spokesperson Joshua Mazibuko told ANA on Saturday that Dlamini’s murder came on the eve of the party’s national council meeting, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, and focus on issues of readiness for its national conference.

“I don’t want to speculate about the motive for the murder, but as the IFP we would like to urge the police to act swiftly,” he said. He was shocked by the killing as he knew Dlamini personally and was expecting to see him at the conference.

Police had not responded to questions about either incident by the time of publication.

The latest murders bring the number of alleged political killings of members of different political parties to well over 80 since 2011, when added to figures presented by the ANC at the Moerane Commission of inquiry last year.

Independent researcher and KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas has placed the figure as high as 104 over the same period. When 2018 murders that are thought to be politically motivated are added to her figures, the number sits at around 110.

The funeral of Sifiso Cele, ANC Oshabeni branch treasurer at Ray Nkonyeni municipality in the Lower South Coast region, will also take place on Saturday. He was shot dead on Monday.

African News Agency/ANA