Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The killing of a ward councillor on Tuesday has sparked fears that the violence which has claimed dozens of ANC leaders’ lives across KwaZulu-Natal is now spreading to the party’s lower South Coast region.

Ntokozo "Lithi" Maphumulo‚ a councillor in uMdoni municipality was shot dead as he arrived home in eMahlongwa. Maphumulo was described by the ANC in the province as "a fearless cadre who served his community diligently and with integrity".

Provincial party spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said: "Maphumulo dedicated his life to serving the ANC and his community and his outstanding leadership skills will be sadly missed by many in the ANC‚ especially those who benefited from his unparalleled wisdom."

Maphumulo’s death comes just two weeks after the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) had stripped the ANC lower South Coast region of its powers, ostensibly in an effort to fight factionalism. The regional leadership, which saw the move as a way of thwarting ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s support base, has since appealed against the decision of the PEC to ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe.

This region of the party is divided between the so-called "progressives", who are pro-Ramaphosa and anti-Zuma, and the group known as the "forces of change", which is behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Squabbles between these factions has affected service delivery in uMdoni, Ray Nkonyeni and Ugu District municipalities.

Insiders say the death of Tolomane Mnyayiza, the former ANC regional chairperson and mayor of Ugu district municipality, in December last year, empowered the progressives, led by popular regional secretary Mzwandile Mkhwanazi, who is openly campaigning for Ramaphosa.

The region’s elective conference was expected to take place in October, just two months ahead of the much-anticipated ANC national elective conference in December, but recent development have put preparations for this conference in disarray.

Mkhwanazi told BDlive on Thursday that Maphumulo’s death has increased fear in the region. "We have lost a cadre here and we don’t know whether his death is the beginning of a scourge of killings of ANC leaders and members in the region. Many people are worried and fearful."

"We appeal to the police to allow the law to take its course and for the police to do everything in its powers to ensure the perpetrators of this murder to be brought to book," he said.

Last year, the PEC disbanded the Emalahleni regional leadership, which had been at the forefront in campaigning for former premier Senzo Mchunu in his failed bid to retain the position of provincial chairperson.

Early this year, the far north region was stripped of its powers, and the same fate later befell the Harry Gwala region. Critics say all these regions are suspected of being sympathetic to Ramaphosa’s campaign.

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