Killings are a ‘threat to our democ­racy’

• Parks Tau calls on Cabi­net to look into as­sas­si­na­tions

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Claudi Mailovich Po­lit­i­cal Writer mailovichc@busi­nesslive.co.za

Cabi­net min­is­ters in the se­cu­rity clus­ter should take po­lit­i­cal killings, es­pe­cially those of coun­cil­lors, more se­ri­ously, says South African Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Parks Tau. The sit­u­a­tion is so dire that coun­cil­lors and mu­nic­i­pal man­agers are re­sign­ing in droves, fear­ing for their lives. This poses a huge prob­lem for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties want­ing to re­tain their in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory and to at­tract com­pe­tent ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Cabi­net min­is­ters in the se­cu­rity clus­ter should take po­lit­i­cal killings, es­pe­cially those of coun­cil­lors, more se­ri­ously, says South African Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (Salga) pres­i­dent Parks Tau.

The sit­u­a­tion is so dire that coun­cil­lors and mu­nic­i­pal man­agers are re­sign­ing in droves, fear­ing for their lives. This poses a huge prob­lem for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties want­ing to re­tain their in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory and to at­tract com­pe­tent ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Salga re­leased its re­port on po­lit­i­cal killings on Thurs­day in Jo­han­nes­burg, de­tail­ing the in­tim­i­da­tion of coun­cil­lors and ad­min­is­tra­tors. The re­port had ear­lier been pre­sented to the Mo­er­ane Com­mis­sion look­ing into po­lit­i­cal killings in KwaZulu-Natal.

Tau said cabi­net min­is­ters in the se­cu­rity clus­ter had been in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in Salga events but did not do so, mean­ing po­lit­i­cal killings for them were “not an im­por­tant is­sue”.

Tau said he had to raise the is­sue so that the min­is­ters in ques­tion were not sur­prised if Salga were to vent its frus­tra­tions to the Cabi­net.

“We think it is un­for­tu­nate that the min­is­ters did not par­tic­i­pate in the dis­cus­sion.

“We have cer­tainly been strug­gling to meet with the se­cu­rity clus­ter to raise the is­sue. But we will not tire. We will con­tinue to write to the min­is­ters, so that we can of­fi­cially present the out­comes of this re­search to the se­cu­rity clus­ter, so that we can have a con­ver­sa­tion about what the so­lu­tions are,” said Tau.

The se­cu­rity clus­ter en­com­passes the min­istries of jus­tice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices, de­fence, home af­fairs, po­lice and state se­cu­rity.

Salga es­ti­mates that there were at least 600 po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated killings in the coun­try from 1996 to 2016.

Since 2011, at least 43 coun­cil­lors have been killed, 24 in­jured and 28 prop­er­ties de­stroyed. There are more than 9,000 coun­cil­lor po­si­tions in the coun­try.

An emerg­ing trend high­lighted in the Salga re­port was the high in­ci­dence of res­ig­na­tions among coun­cil­lors and mu­nic­i­pal man­agers in lo­cal coun­cils.

Only 30% of all coun­cil­lors re­turned to of­fice for fur­ther terms, while the av­er­age mu­nic­i­pal man­ager served only about 3.3 years of a five-year con­tract.

The other trend noted in the Salga re­port was that killings and the vi­o­lence were meted out to achieve pri­vate ends.

Tau said the is­sue should con­cern so­ci­ety at large and not be con­fined to Salga.

Po­lit­i­cal killings threat­ened the in­ner work­ings of lo­cal govern­ment as they would de­ter prospec­tive coun­cil­lor can­di­dates from par­tic­i­pat­ing for fear of be­ing killed. This posed a threat to democ­racy.

“We think it [po­lit­i­cal killings] also cre­ates po­ten­tial for those who want in­sta­bil­ity ...”

The con­tin­ued in­tim­i­da­tion and killings of coun­cil­lors cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment for agents provo­ca­teurs that could even­tu­ally lead to the desta­bil­i­sa­tion of the coun­try if the killings were not stopped, warned Tau.

Amos Ma­sondo, an MP on the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee for co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs, said dur­ing the Salga panel dis­cus­sion that the per­cep­tion that state se­cu­rity agen­cies were com­pro­mised should be in­ves­ti­gated.

Ma­sondo noted the in­er­tia of the Hawks and the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity in prob­ing and pros­e­cut­ing rel­e­vant cases.

The Salga re­port came to the con­clu­sion that “the cul­ture of im­punity ... is im­plied by the in­ef­fec­tive­ness of the jus­tice sys­tem in the suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tion of mur­ders in gen­eral”.

Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula’s spokesman, Vuyo Mhaga, said on Thurs­day that the min­is­ter had not re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion from Salga and that Mbalula would have at­tended any meet­ing that sought to pro­vide bet­ter polic­ing.

No min­is­ters had been in­vited to Thurs­day’s event.

The act­ing na­tional po­lice com­mis­sioner was in­vited but could not at­tend, and the po­lice did not send any other rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the launch.

WE THINK IT [PO­LIT­I­CAL KILLINGS] ALSO CRE­ATES PO­TEN­TIAL FOR THOSE WHO WANT IN­STA­BIL­ITY

Parks Tau

/Freddy Mavunda. © Fi­nan­cial Mail

Sound­ing the alarm: Salga pres­i­dent Parks Tau is dis­ap­pointed that min­is­ters in the se­cu­rity clus­ter have not at­tended as­so­ci­a­tion events high­light­ing po­lit­i­cal killings.

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