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Cablegate: Murder of Former Ifp Supporter Thwarts Anc Hope for a Local

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DE RUEHDU #0014/01 0570950
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260950Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL DURBAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1562
INFO RUCNSAD/SADC COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 0947

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DURBAN 000014

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR AF/S; INR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SF
SUBJECT: MURDER OF FORMER IFP SUPPORTER THWARTS ANC HOPE FOR A LOCAL
VICTORY IN KZN

REF: A. A 09 Durban 50
B. B 09 Durban 79

DURBAN 00000014 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Three Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) members
have been arrested for the murder of a councilor who was
expected to cast a deciding vote that would end the IFP's
majority in the Amajuba District Municipality. This incident
reveals the ongoing power struggle between the IFP and the
African National Congress (ANC) and the former's sense of
desperation as it continues to lose political ground in its
remaining strongholds. END SUMMARY.

BACKGROUND

2. (SBU) The Amajuba district municipality in northwestern
KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has been fiercely contested by the IFP and
ANC for years. The IFP is popular in rural parts of the
municipality, but the ANC enjoys greater support in urban areas.
The IFP initially gained control of the municipality when the
first transitional local government authority was established in
1994. By the time of the 2006 local government elections,
however, the IFP had lost significant political ground and lost
control of the Amajuba District Municipality to the ANC (Ref A).
The margin of victory was so thin, however, that the ANC needed
the support of the National Democratic Convention (NADECO, a
splinter group from the IFP) to install its mayor and executive
committee.

3. (SBU) In early 2008, however, then leader of NADECO Ziba
Jiyane (a former National Chairperson of the IFP) fell out of
favor with ANC provincial leaders and convinced his party to
switch back is support to the IFP. Working with representatives
from the Democratic Alliance (DA), the IFP ousted then ANC
Amajuba Mayor Vincent Mabuyakhulu and replaced him with IFP
Mayor Mkhulu Mlangeni by a margin of 13 to 12 votes.

4. (SBU) The IFP's municipal control was threatened in mid 2008
when NADECO split and formed the Federal Congress (FEDCON) and
South African Democratic Congress (SADECO). FEDCON sided with
the IFP while SADECO aligned itself with the ANC. With FEDCON's
support, however, the IFP managed to hang on to control of the
municipality.

BACK TO THE ANC

5. (SBU) In November 2009, the ANC defeated the IFP in the
November 2009 Amajuba bi-elections. Knowing that the ANC would
immediately oust the IFP's mayor, Amajuba District Municipal
Speaker Peter Croft and IFP-aligned council member refused to
convene any further municipal meetings. The ANC went to court
and forced the speaker to schedule a meeting for January 16.

CRITICAL VOTE THWARTED

6. (SBU) On January 14, Newcastle Municipal Councilor Thenjiwe
Buthelezi and FEDCON member was murdered in her home; she was
expected to vote against the IFP and in support of the ANC's
vote of no confidence of Mayor Mlangeni. Buthelezi had
historically supported the IFP but recently changed her
allegiance, thereby threatening to end the IFP's control of the
municipality, Regional ANC Chairperson Arthur Zwane told local
media. FEDCON tried for months to fire Buthelezi and other
FEDCON councilors who were suspected of planning to change their
allegiances, according to Zwane.

7. (SBU) FEDCON Amajuba District Chairperson and Amajuba
councilor Jerry Sibiya told Pol/Econ Assistant on February 16
that FEDCON `has a standing decision to support the IFP' but
councilor Buthelezi `violated that decision' and the party was

DURBAN 00000014 002.2 OF 002


about to replace her in the municipality. Sibiya refused to
speculate about the motive for Buthelezi's killing but said he
believes it is linked to the on-going political tension in the
area.

8. (SBU) Three IFP members, one of whom is an Amajuba
councilor, have been arrested and charged with the murder of
Buthelezi. Police Spokesperson Phindile Radebe told Pol/Econ
Assistant on January 28 that the police believe the killing of
Buthelezi was politically motivated and is linked to the ongoing
IFP/ANC struggle for the control of the Amajuba municipality.
On January 27, local IFP Amajuba District Organizer Jabu Mabaso
told Pol/Econ Assistant that the IFP `distances itself from the
killing of Buthelezi' and denied that its members were involved.
Mabaso accused the police of being biased in their
investigation and of being `political instruments used by the
ANC to topple the IFP in the municipality. When asked about
the three arrested men, Mabaso and Sibiya confirmed separately
to Pol/Econ assistant their IFP membership, but again denied
that the men or the party had anything to do with Buthelezi's
murder.

9. (SBU) Acting ANC Newcastle Mayor Afzul Rehman (who falls
under the Amajuba District Municipality) on January 28 told
Pol/Econ Assistant that he believes Buthelezi was killed because
she planned to vote with the ANC. `There is a battle for power
in Amajuba and people will do anything to gain it,' Rehman said.
In a January 24 statement, MEC (Member of Executive Committee,
like a `provincial minister') for Transport, Community Safety
and Liaison Willies Mchunu condemned the `despicable' murder of
Buthelezi. Mchunu formed a provincial political violence task
team to investigate Buthelezi's murder and deployed members of a
public order policing unit to monitor the political situation in
the Amajuba District Municipality.

TEMPORARY CONTROL

10. (SBU) On January 29, Buthelezi's vacant council seat was
filled by IFP-friendly FEDCON member Joseph Zulu. The ANC's no
confidence vote of Mayor Mlangeni was subsequently defeated, but
the ANC was able to oust the council's speaker, an IFP-aligned
member of the DA. The ANC is expected to continue its efforts
to take over the municipality.

COMMENT

11. (SBU) Unable to defeat the ANC at the provincial level,
desperate IFP members seem resolved to hold off the ANC in the
party's remaining strongholds by any means necessary (Ref B).
That resolve, however, has not carried over into service
delivery - the true reason the IFP continues to lose power. A
sense of political entitlement has gripped the minds of many
local IFP leaders, who have lost sight of the fact that voters
want their elected officials to improve their lives, not to
waste time on political posturing.
DERDERIAN

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