ZULULAND District Municipality Mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi has been accused of making comments that incite political killings in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, after he was caught in a video clip making what is believed to be threats of violence.
Buthelezi’s alleged statement might be in contrast with the Moerane Commission’s recommendations that, to stop the killings, political parties should discourage their members from committing acts of political violence.
The NFP backed its allegations by revealing an eight-month-old video clip in which Buthelezi was seen and heard addressing a crowd in reaction to the ANC/NFP/EFF coalition taking over the Nongoma Municipality from the IFP.
NFP secretary-general Canaan Mdletshe said he shot the video on February 21, when his party was celebrating the election of its councillor Clifford Ndabandaba as the mayor of the municipality.
Ndabandaba replaced the IFP’s Albert Mncwango, who was ousted through a motion of no confidence.
The ANC in the province said it was also aware of various IFP inciteful public utterances, including those Buthelezi allegedly made.
Mdletshe linked Buthelezi’s public utterances to the spate of attacks on the NFP councillors. He said between July 1 and September 30, four NFP councillors were attacked in Nongoma, and one of them shot dead.
The NFP’s Ntombenhle Mchunu succumbed to gunshots at her home in Nongoma in July.
In the video, Buthelezi addressed a crowd, including people dressed in IFP regalia.
“As the IFP, we are not going to allow the theft of Nongoma Municipality. If there is a need for us to be arrested today, we are going to be arrested,” Buthelezi said in the video.
Mdletshe believed Buthelezi was threatening that the IFP would reclaim Nongoma back through violent means. Police could be seen monitoring the gathering.
Buthelezi has not responded to a request to defend himself from Mdletshe’s allegations.
Mdletshe said he was among people who were recording Buthelezi’s address outside municipality premises on the day Ndabandaba was inaugurated.
Mdletshe said the NFP did not see the need to open a case against Buthelezi because, at the time ,“I thought he was just talking”.
Mdletshe also shared a voice recording of another man, who is believed to be an IFP supporter, saying: “Comrades, I am telling you that we are going to take back (Nongoma) .
“This one (Ndabandaba) is going to hold the position for only one week or three days. We are going to take back our municipality, which belongs to the IFP, through our sweat (hard work).
“We are not going to work for other boys who only have four wards. Relax comrades and stop worrying. We are men. We are not going to be governed by PRs (proportional representation councillors).
“If we fail (to reclaim the municipality) in a few weeks or a month, give us your skirts (to wear), and you can put on the trousers.”
IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli, who claimed ignorance of the clips, rejected the allegations.
“Right now, this statement (by Mdletshe) is reckless because only police, after investigating, can say who is behind political attacks in Nongoma.
“You can suspect neighbours (other political parties) whereas the problem is within (NFP), since the Moerane Commission stated that most political killings are within political parties and caused by infighting over positions, including councils,” Ntuli said.
He said when IFP councillor Innocent 'Killer' Mkhwanazi was killed in Mtubatuba in June, the party never made unfounded allegations.
“It is unfortunate that when such things happen, some people get a chance to make statements that would make them relevant in politics,” he said.
Mdletshe said his party does not enjoy freedom of political activities in Nongoma because of attacks that had been directed at its councillors.
“One of them (councillors) was attacked twice, but only one was killed, while another one (Mphathiseni Manqele) is still in hospital as we speak, since he was admitted on August 23. But there were a total of five attacks in a space of 90 days,” said Mdletshe.
Mdletshe said he feared that NFP leaders would face worse intimidation during next year's election campaign.
“Just before the 2021 local government elections, our Ward 7 candidate, Dumsani Qwabe, was killed in Nongoma, which makes Nongoma very dangerous for us to campaign,” said Mdletshe.
Qwabe’s bullet-reddened body was found burnt beyond recognition five days before elections.
In the latest incident, NFP’s Nongoma councillor Senzeni Zulu’s husband was killed on Saturday night by strangers who visited her home looking for her.
Mdletshe claimed that IFP has never accepted that his party’s coalition with the ANC and EFF replaced Mncwango with Ndabandaba, but Ntuli said IFP accepted democratic processes.
The EFF’s Sabelo Nkosi was elected deputy mayor, while Babongile Sithole from the ANC became the new speaker.
ANC spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said as a result of statements by IFP leaders, there had been increasing political tension in Zululand.
“In fact, there is another video showing Mncwango shouting the same threats, and we are on record as ANC for having said there have been instances, particularly in the northern part of the province, where we have seen leaders of the IFP fueling violence particularly after the killing of the NFP councillor.
“Our view, as the ANC, has always been that as leaders, whatever that we say and do must at all material times promote peace.
“Our failure to do that will instigate people, and people will respond with violence, which is the ugly past that we do not want to go back to,” Mndbele said.
Mndebele recently said he hoped that the much- anticipated reconciliation talks between his party and IFP might help to ease political tension in the Zululand area of the province.
Mncwango did not respond when asked about Mndebele’s allegations.
The volatile situation in northern KwaZulu-Natal also claimed the life of ACDP’s City of Umhlathuze Councillor, Pastor John Myaka.
The boiling tensions was while Advocate Marumo Moerane’s recommendations on how KwaZulu-Natal should end political killings seems to be gathering dust without being implemented.
According to media reports, there were 19 councillors who have been killed between last year and this year alone.
Mdletshe said parties, including the NFP, seem to have done little to implement Moerane’s recommendations within their own structures.
“Unfortunately, we have also slightly failed in some of the recommendations,” Mdletshe said.
He said at some of its gatherings, his party does talk about the importance of respecting democratic processes, “but I think we are not doing enough as political parties”.
The Moerane Commission was appointed by then-premier Willies Mchunu on October 28, 2016 to investigate a spate of political killings in the province and submitted its report on June 12, 2018.
Among the recommendations was that “political parties (must) urgently educate their members about democratic practices, especially the universal practice of peaceful political competition as opposed to political intolerance and violent political competition.”
“That is where we are failing as political parties because we lack educating our members about the importance of accepting that for democracy to work, there must be a winner and a loser.
“We should do more as political parties to tell our people that we have to practice democracy and not only talk about it,” Mdletshe said.
According to TimesLive, Police Minister Bheki Cele and provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi revealed last month that the province has suffered 155 political-related murders since July 2018, of which 52 of those killed were ANC, IFP, NFP, EFF and ACDP councillors while 103 others were municipal officials and political office bearers.
ANC councillor in Msunduzi Municipality, Mabhungu Mkhize, became one of the latest victims in August.
Moerane also recommended that parties should, ahead of elections, settle their internal and external differences through negotiation, mediation and other consensus building techniques to avoid the continuing murder of politicians and public officials.
He further advised: “Political deployment of persons as government functionaries into positions without the appropriate qualifications must be discouraged and eliminated as a practice.”
During her appearance before Moerane, KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary De Haas attributed political killing to “the guns and cache of weapons, still unaccounted for in this Province.”
Both Mndebele and Ntuli said their parties were implementing Moerane’s recommendation within their ranks.