The escalating killing of councillors and municipal managers in the country especially in the KwaZulu-Natal province is a serious concern for SALGA.
These alleged political killings have prompted the national government to formulate The Moerane Commission of Inquiry, to investigate the alarming political killings in the country.
Chaired by Advocate Moerane Marumo, the commission was established by KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu in October last year to probe the ongoing political killings in the province. The commission has heard how councillors and municipal managers have been murdered because of their anti-corruption stance.
According to SALGA’s report, although a steady decrease of killings was recorded between 2011 and early 2016, currently more councillors are either being intimidated or killed. Some of the sources of the intimidation and killings of local government officials have been identified as economic resource competition and competing ideologies, among others.
The reported intimidation and killings are also attributed to councillors’ own political parties, opposition parties, tenderpreneurs (business people who depend on government tenders), corrupt government officials, political opponents, and even criminals in some instances.
SALGA also made presentations on findings into councillor killings at the Moerane Commission in Mayville, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday, 29 August 2017. The presentation comes after the SALGA National Executive Committee (NEC) took a decision in July this year to make a case for councillor safety provisions to be reviewed in light of the recent spate of killings.
The NEC had also committed to engaging, among other stakeholders, the Moerane Commission to find sustainable solutions to address the killings of councillors. A delegation made up of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Executive Committee of SALGA and the National Working Group Chairperson on Councillor Welfare and Governance, Councillor Cole Stofile, represented SALGA at the Commission.
Their presentation was anchored on a findings report titled Violence in Democracy, which was recently compiled by SALGA. The report outlines various factors that have been identified to be contributors to the intimidation and killings of councillors.
SALGA believes that the current legislative and policy framework does not sufficiently grant for protection to councillors. Drastic action by the government is needed to prevent further loss of life and damage caused by disgruntled communities.
A safety and security manual for councillors should be developed to pave the way for a councillor welfare and safety net in line with our laws and in defense of our democracy.
The rate of successful prosecution of councillor killings must be raised by turning the slaying of councillors into priority crimes. Recently SALGA hosted a two-day Municipal Managers Forum in George, Western Cape, where welfare and safety issues of councillors and senior managers were on the agenda.
Some of the SALGA findings include the following:
- Between 1994 and 2016, up to 600 politicians in South Africa were killed, and most of them served in local government.
- Although a steady decrease of killings was recorded between 2011 and early 2016, currently more councillors are now being killed or intimidated.
- Some of the sources of the intimidation and killings of local government officials have been identified as economic resource competition and competing ideologies, among others.
- The reported intimidation and killings are also attributed to councillors’ own political parties, opposition parties, tenderpreneurs, corrupt government officials, political opponents, and even criminals in some instances.
- The killings of councillors are not only confined to KwaZulu- Natal and the Eastern Cape, there are cases reported across the country’s provinces.