The African National Congress (ANC) has just concluded its policy conference. The policy documents were – as ever – massively detailed and of considerable interest. But few delegates seemed much concerned by them. The real attention was focussed on the ANC’s next conference in December, when the party will elect its new leadership. Since open campaigning is frowned upon inside the party, this was one of the few real opportunities to lobby for support. President Jacob Zuma is facing a challenge from his Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
So fierce were the clashes between rival factions that fights broke out. President Jacob Zuma had to hurriedly leave the conference hall to get away from the clashes. Pepper spray was used to regain control. Worse was to follow. When one of the delegates, Wandile Mkhize, arrived home in KwaZulu-Natal, he was killed by shots fired from a moving car. Mkhize had led ANC delegates in songs praising President Zuma and was in the forefront when Zuma’s supporters confronted Motlanthe’s faction at the conference.
Commenting on the murder, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the ANC aligned trade union movement, Cosatu, deplored the factionalism that had led to Mkhize’s death. “The problem is that when we are on public platforms, we speak against factionalism. But as soon as we leave those platforms, we do exactly what we have been saying must not be done. We sing songs praising individuals,” he said. Vavi went on to reject suggestions that this was a killing from outside the ANC. “Political killings are so commonplace in KwaZulu-Natal that we can no longer blame them on the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) warlords because it’s an inside job,” Vavi said.
If this had been an isolated phenomenon it would have been serious enough, but it is not. Clashes and killings are now a regular phenomenon inside the ANC, as Vavi suggests. Party meetings have to be abandoned or postponed since it is too unsafe for them to be held. Read more…