Former KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress (ANC) chairperson and axed premier, Senzo Mchunu said patronage, factionalism and manipulation had led to the rot within the ruling party.
Mchunu was testifying before the Moerane Commission of enquiry into political violence in the province during a sitting at Mayville in Durban on Wednesday. Much of his testimony corroborated statements made by previous witnesses.
He said that councillorships were highly sought after because of the status and money that accompanied the position.
“In the main, people who have been targeted from 2011 to now are councillors and potential councillors, branch leaders of the ANC, including those who operate at sub-regions and zones. This includes influential and prominent politicians,” he said.
“Being a councillor promises double growth; a growth in social status where you are suddenly respected at functions, and status for your immediate family. You are the most available public figure at a local level. But it also pays financially as you are getting a direct income,” he said.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that at any given point you can find up to 10 people seeking to be a councillor in a ward,” he said.
Mchunu’s testimony comes at a time of heightened political tension in KZN. Besides dozens of politically-motivated murders, the province’s ANC leadership was effectively left powerless last week after a High Court ruling declared its 2015 provincial conference and decisions taken there were null and void.
“If you are associated with the campaign of a councillor and your councillor of choice is a winner, you will be part of his inner circle and will have influence and support. There will be a benefit for you too, not withstanding where you are in proximity to the councillor because it puts you ‘next in line’. You can then sooner or later become a member of the branch executive, zone, sub region or even regional executive committee,” he said.
Being a councillor also afforded incumbents proximity to tenders or power broking positions within the political power ladder, which was an opportunity to offer employment or to directly or indirectly award tenders. This was part of the “my/our turn to eat” syndrome, according to Mchunu.
“You will benefit when you manipulate. You also benefit via your faction when you manipulate. The benefit is continuous support from the beneficiary of manipulation,” he said. This often resulted in lists or membership being manipulated to favour a certain faction.
“When at an elective meeting in a branch, you will give someone a brief of the outcome that is wanted by whomever. This will include briefing the deployee to call an end to the meeting or saying the meeting is non quorate and then leaving.”
Manipulation also happened through changing of results’ lists and by hand counting, he said. If anyone denied the majority for a preferred candidate, a “brazen look” by someone acting as a “bouncer” could silence them.
Incorrect times were also given for meetings, or venues and times changed at the last minute, he said, ensuring that only the preferred faction was at a meeting.
Police could also be used to manipulate the outcome of meetings, he said, by asking them to eject people from meetings. “These could be the municipal police, SAPS, personal security or a private security company,” said Mchunu.
– African News Agency (ANA)