KZN Salga chairperson Thami Ntuli. Photo: Mbuso Kunene
The prevalence of violence and political killings in KwaZulu-Natal is a result of a society which normalises a culture of interference and intimidation said South African Local Government Association (Salga) chairperson, Thami Ntuli.
He said that data collected from KZN municipalities since November 2021 shows that out of 40 councillors who died, 18 were assassinated.
Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, he said 17 councillors had died of natural causes while three died of car accidents and two from suicide.
“Nationally, in the past two years, 167 councillors have been replaced due to death.
In 2023 alone, seven councillors and three traditional leaders have been killed, with the most recent murder having been reported in the uMngeni Municipality in December.
Forty percent of those who died were ward councillors, and 60% were proportional representation (PR) councillors.
“KwaZulu-Natal is now at a tipping point and could very well descend into political violence and/or intra and interparty violence.
“The period of tension only needs a match for it to turn into open hostilities and the once-called ‘no-go areas’.
“What is encouraging is that most by-elections are peaceful. The use of government powers to undermine local leadership remains a real threat,” he said.
Ntuli said Salga observed that by-elections have become highstakes events that periodically bring a change of leadership.
“Provincial and national elections will further strain the coalition,” he said.
Ntuli said in some instances, damage to property and violence are used to intimidate the management and councillors into conceding to external demands.
On municipalities under administration, Ntuli said none of the municipalities under Section 139
intervention showed any meaningful improvement in their audit outcomes.
Ntuli said more funding support was needed where municipalities were said to be under Section 154 or Section 139 interventions.
“Currently, this legislative tool of intervention is primarily a political intervention.
“It is also, unfortunately, a method for cadre deployment for administrators with political interests while not being subjected to meaningful performance management of government administrators.
“This means that government support and intervention are only rhetorical,” he said.
In Ntuli’s view, in KZN none of the intervention measures have worked and there was evidence of a regression.
Salga chairperson says that out of 40 councillors that died in the last two years, 18 were assassinated
“The administrators brought by the provincial government are former administrators who have only two consistent traits about them — one, their track record is questionable; two, they are rotated frequently.” —The Witness