Port Shepstone – The ANC pulled in its big guns for the funeral of slain KZN councillor Wandile Mkhize on Sunday, but the event seemed more like a rally in support of a second term for President Jacob Zuma.
Mkhize was killed last Saturday evening just after returning home from the ANC’s policy conference.
He and fellow ANC member Nhlankanipho Ntshangase were shot in a drive-by shooting in front of his home in Manaba near Margate. Ntshangase survived.
Huge flags bearing Zuma’s face were waved about in the funeral marquee in Port Shepstone as, song after song, the crowd pointed two fingers in the air, indicating their support for Zuma to serve another term. Notable exceptions were some ANC Youth League members.
On the stage a huge picture of Zuma flanked that of Mkhize’s. Zuma sat next to Mkhize’s mother, Ivy, and was surrounded by KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize and several ministers and ANC national executive committee members like Jeff Radebe, Malusi Gigaba, Nathi Mthethwa and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Sacked police commissioner Bheki Cele and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula were also there.
It emerged that shortly before his death Mkhize had sent Mbalula an SMS expressing concern about unity in the party. He had also expressed concern at the way youth league issues were being handled.
Ironically, while the formal programme listed all the speakers, including those from the ANC alliance partners, the youth league was left off the programme, although they got a chance to speak.
While Zuma expressed his sympathy with Mkhize’s family, he spent a lot of time talking about the ANC’s second transition policy document, which left many at the party’s recent policy conference divided over the meaning of the term.
He said the term meant nothing because it was the content that was important.
He said Mkhize had spoken to him about the meaning, expressing concern that it was a Marxist term and he (Zuma) had told him that as someone who used to sing in a choir, the word transition was used in music to denote a change in time or tempo. “… call it second phase, second stage… whatever…”
The ANC had still expected “a lot” from Mkhize who was “brilliant and fearless“.
Zuma appealed to ANC members to be vigilant, saying it appeared that the killing of comrades was “becoming common”.
“It seems that there still exist some forces of darkness… bent on dividing our movement and creating mistrust.”
The party On Sunday slated media reports that linked Mkhize’s death to business interests or to a disagreement with the provincial leadership.
However, Premier Zweli Mkhize said while the ANC had “no specific knowledge” of why he was killed, the party must “look at the confluence of politics, criminality and business” as it was going to cause huge problems in the party.
Young Communist League leader Buti Manamela said Mkhize was not a taxi driver or a business owner but a politician and therefore there must have been a political motive for his death. – The Mercury