Political killings will increase in KwaZulu-Natal as the ANC's December elective conference draws closer, the Moerane Commission into political killings in the province heard on Monday.
ANC councillor in the Pongola municipality, Nqaba Mkhwanazi told the commission that factionalism within the ANC was one of the underlying causes to political killings.
Mkhwanazi said factions in the leadership of the KZN ANC were increasing instead of decreasing.
"As we head to the elective conference in December, KZN will have more than three factions. One camp is supporting Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, another supports Dr Zweli Mkhize while another supports Minister Jeff Radebe, who are all from KZN. Another camp supports Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa," he said.
He said he was not sure whether to consider National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete a KZN citizen because she was married to a husband from another province. Mbete is also said to be an ANC presidential hopeful.
Mkhwanazi said the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) should call a provincial council in KZN to assist the province in deciding who they should nominate as their preferred presidential hopeful.
"From now until the elective conference, killings will continue if they don't call the provincial council," he said.
He said the increasing factions would also have an impact on the 2021 local government elections.
"There will also be more killings in the 2021 local government elections because of the factions," he said.
'Killed because of factionalism'
Mkhwanazi testified that besides factionalism, corruption also played a pivotal part in political killings in KZN.
"Corruption is the main contributor to the killings. Unemployment, poverty and tenders also have a role in the killings," he said.
He said it would stop if the ANC lost elections in KZN.
When asked why there were no killings when the ANC recently lost Tshwane to the Democratic Alliance, Mkhwanazi said there was nothing to compete for.
"The killings continued here because the ANC retained all the metropolitan municipalities it had been controlling."
Mkhwanazi was called to testify at the commission following the murder of his friend, Mbhekiseni Khumalo.
Khumalo was a Ward 7 Councillor in the Pongola Municipality. He was shot dead on December 17, 2016, outside his home in Lubisi area.
"He was killed because of factionalism in the ANC," he said.
He said another camp in the area was not happy that Khumalo was a councillor in his ward.
Khumalo was serving his second term as councillor in the area, the commission heard.
Mkhwanazi revealed that they've recently uncovered a fake membership scam in the ANC's Zululand region.
"Four thousand fake ANC members who had a fake FNB stamp on their forms were discovered in Nongoma. Those names were sent to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe at Luthuli House. He has not replied to us. Even though fake membership has no impact on political killings, it has an impact on the election of leaders and contributes to faction agendas," he said.
A particular group from the ANCYL in the region was behind the scam, he said.
"They're trying to strengthen their faction in order to have more numbers when elections come," he said.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa and communications manager Khusela Sangoni did not respond to a request for comment.
Khumalo's widow, Thandazile, said her husband did not support any form of corruption.
"He did not even want to employ me in the municipality. It's possible he was killed for fighting corruption," she said.
She said she was inside the house with their two children when Khumalo was shot outside the house.
Two men have been arrested for the murder.
They will appear in court on September 21.