Bheki Cele. Picture: NTSWE MOKOENA
Bheki Cele. Picture: NTSWE MOKOENA

The ANC has moved to reassure the public that elections in KwaZulu-Natal and the North West would run smoothly, after the provinces were flagged as high-risk areas by police minister Bheki Cele.

Cele has said 51,000 police officers would be deployed to voting stations on May 8. He said special attention would be given to the two provinces, where some communities were reportedly planning to protest over various issues on the day.

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He said the police would only intervene when it came to violent actions that interfered with other people’s constitutional rights.

IEC spokesperson Tsile Maswanganyi said the agency had no data on high-risk areas going to the elections on Wednesday.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chair Sihle Zikalala said everything would go well on Wednesday, but admitted there were few areas of concern in the province, which has the second-largest number of registered voters in the country after Gauteng.

Zikalala said the problematic regions included Umlazi township, Ndwendwe and some parts of the Harry Gwala district.

The regions had previously been rocked by party leadership disputes, general instability and political assassinations.

In July 2018 a task team was set up to investigate political killings in the province, and an interministerial committee was also formed by President Cyril Ramaphosa after the murder of ANC veteran Msawenkosi “Qashana” Mchunu in 2018 .

Cele said the task team had made arrests in connection with the murders of former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, and other politicians including Dumisani Moyo, Londiwe Mhlongo, Derick Mthethwa, Wandile Ngobeni, Sibuyiselo Dlamini, and Sibusiso Mbhobo, among others.

Zikalala was adamant, however, that the provincial leadership was working with the police to ensure incident-free elections in KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC’s largest province in terms of membership.

In the North West, ANC provincial task-team coordinator, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said it was all systems go for the provincial and national elections on Wednesday.

However, Kubayi-Ngubane, also science & technology minister, said she was not aware of media reports that IFP campaigners were allegedly assaulted by ANC members in the province over the weekend.

Kubayi-Ngubane, who cast her special vote in Soweto on Monday, said the governing party had a duty to ensure the elections were free and fair and that it had appealed for calm from its members in the platinum mining province.

“We are confident that the elections would be free and fair. What makes us comfortable as well is the commitment from the security cluster, that where there are elements of wrongdoing, criminality, they will take care of that,” she said, calling on the police to arrest ANC members found on the wrong side of the law.

Meanwhile, Kubayi-Ngubane said her party would retain control of the North West, where the DA and EFF had been making inroads.

On Sunday EFF leader Julius Malema said the ANC had failed the people and ran the risk of losing the North West, among other provinces where the the governing party previously enjoyed huge support.

Malema cited the service delivery protests in the province that saw the resignation of premier Supra Mahumapelo as a sign voters in the province were tired of the ANC government.

But Kubayi-Ngubane disagreed: “I completely disagree. Anyone who says we have not done anything is wrong. You’d rather say these are the things you have done and there are areas where there are weaknesses.

Voters in the province told the ANC they would give it another chance and that it should not “mess up again”, she said, noting that the ANC remained the only part with policies to transform SA and move the people forward.

She added that the ANC was happy with Ramaphosa’s message at the weekend that the era of acting with impunity was over.

Ramaphosa, addressing the ANC’s finally rally in Johannesburg on Sunday, took a hard stance on corruption, promising that those found guilty and involved in state capture, will not hold public office.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za