The build-up to the local government elections has already been blighted by what seems like politically-motivated murders in the ranks of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape.
In several instances, branch meetings that had been convened to elect ward candidates escalated into violence.
Last month, Mduduzi Madikizela – an ANC candidate hopeful from ward six in the Winnie Madikizela Mandela Municipality, and a fellow activist, Hleliphi Tshotsha, were gunned down.
Thembekile Songwangwa, an Ingquza Hill municipality ward 30 candidate nominee, was also stabbed to death at a branch meeting at the end of last month.
Madikizela’s spouse, Nonhlanhla Nyathi, is still trying to understand why her husband was murdered.
“It was very painful to witness the killing of my husband. I was with my three kids, he literally died in front of us. He came to lock the garage, we heard the gunshots, and we heard him shouting calling my name. I opened the door and I saw him running and unknown man with a gun was following him and shooting. These suspects came throw the open fence at the backyard,” says Nyathi.
Now, she must raise their three children alone.
“There is not support to the kids, nothing, yes Mduduzi was not employed but he would make means to feed his children. He would go out to do landscaping and grass-cutting in the village. Now that he is no more we are felt helpless and hopeless. We really need help so that we can take children to school because we do not even have food.”
Another victim, Hleliphi Tshotsha worked with Madikizela as an activist in their ward. The killers came for her after killing Madikizela.
The family spokesperson, Velaphi Ndovela, says she heard the gunshots.
“I heard the gunshots, I first thought that they were shooting at me, but I suddenly realised that no, they were not actually shooting me. After a shot time I saw children running towards me, they told me that there are people who are killing their mother. I went to the main house and I saw killers running away from the house. I saw my sister lying down on her face, I shook her and he could not respond and I told these children that it is done, these killers are done with your mother,” adds Ndovela.
A branch meeting in ward 30 in the Ingqunza Hill Municipality also turned deadly. Thembekile Songwangwa wanted to stand as the ANC nominee in this ward. His wife, Nyameka Songwangwa, says her life is ripped apart.
“We were shocked but the most painful thing is that, people that killed him are the people in the same village. I do not know how will I feel when I meet them because I am still healing from what happened, this has affected the whole family, we are still shocked. So it’s not easy, I hope justice will be done.”
A member of the provincial executive council of the ANC, Bulelani Mvulane, says the party condemns these killings.
“It cannot be the members of the ANC that they kill each other for the reason we do not know, because the issue of electing a candidate is an issue of the process of democracy that we have adopted in many conferences of the ANC.”
A political analyst, Ntsikilelo Breakfast, says these murders are driven by greed.
“The conflicts that are at play at the moment within the ANC at the moment they are not the battle for the soul of the ANC, they are about who stands a chance to access the material gains. So these political killings are about one for political power, and also access to the resources within the state machinery.”
The nomination processes of the ANC in the Eastern Cape is still ongoing. The party is still to conclude five regional conferences ahead of local government elections.
Book review on how the ANC’s political killings in KZN are breaking South Africa: