Ziyanda Ngcobo is a young, ambitious journalist known for reporting on the scourge of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The province has seen more than 500 political assassinations since the country’s first democractic elections in 1994, as politicians fall prey to a deadly scramble for state resources and contracts.
Ziyanda is now investigating the murder of Sindiso Magaqa, a popular local politician and member of the ruling ANC party known for his anti-corruption work. He was fatally shot in July 2017.
As the murder trial plays out across the nation’s TV screens, Ziyanda revisits the scene of the crime looking for answers. She also speaks to a politician who has become a whistle-blower against corruption and is a key witness to the murder.
Her investigation takes her to the Glebelands hostel complex, where the murder rate is four times the national average and a high unemployment rate means residents are more vulnerable to being hired as hitmen.
Many of those who witnessed these killings, or whose loved ones were lost, face threats of their own and still live in fear.
Ziyanda is determined to continue reporting despite the dangers, working all hours of the day to get the story out.
South Africa’s Deadly Politics follows Ziyanda as she pushes issues of political violence into the national spotlight, determined to expose what she sees as an absolute threat to post-apartheid South Africa and its democracy.
By Christopher Clark and Shaun Swingler
In early 2018, we made the first of what would become many trips to the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal to report on an uptick in political killings in a place with a long history of political violence.
To a large degree, our initial motivation stemmed from a sense that the issue had been grossly underreported both in local and international media. The same could be said of KwaZulu-Natal more generally, despite it being South Africa’s second-most populous province, an important contemporary stronghold of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), and formerly a key site of contention during the bloody final throes of apartheid.
With South Africa due to head to the polls in May 2019, it seemed to us that political killings in KwaZulu-Natal could pose a significant threat to the country’s young democracy, while also highlighting the rampant corruption that has beset the ANC in recent years.
Ziyanda Ngcobo, an ambitious young local journalist and the main character of our film, proved to be an invaluable source in our initial forays into the province, both as a rare exception in terms of her consistent, brave and meticulous coverage of political violence, and in her willingness to share information, leads and contacts.
From the outset, we were struck by the considerable risks that Ziyanda had confronted both as a journalist and as a woman in this frequently violent part of the country. Her unwavering determination and the seemingly unparalleled access it had helped her secure were equally striking.
Ziyanda quickly emerged as a compelling vehicle through which to map KwaZulu-Natal’s complex political landscape and to join some of the dots between its disparate flashpoints and its victims of political assassination. She also embodied the vital role of the media in holding power to account in such contexts.
In 2019, we spent several weeks shadowing Ziyanda for this film as she traversed this picturesque but deeply troubled province and, in particular, revisited the high-profile case of Sindiso Magaqa.
Ziyanda felt that Magaqa’s death had marked a turning point in terms of South Africans’ awareness of the extent of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal. “I think the assassination of Sindiso Magaqa is what really made people say ‘what the hell is going on there?'” she said. “But it’s not one person. There’s a much larger context to it. It’s about the deterioration of the moral fibre of society as well.”
Ziyanda’s ongoing investigations into Magaqa’s case throughout this film help to introduce several subsidiary characters that have also been touched by the tendrils of political violence, from one of Magaqa’s former colleagues and friends to an outspoken activist in a poor and partisan hostel complex that has become known as a “reservoir of hitmen”.
Through these characters, the film gives a poignant sense of the elusiveness of justice for political killings in KwaZulu-Natal and shows the considerable emotional toll this lack of resolution has begun to take on Ziyanda.
In doing so, it more broadly reflects the continuing effect of apartheid’s violent legacy on South Africa’s uncertain present. But it also proffers hope in Ziyanda’s incessant need to bear witness and her refusal to give up despite the obstacles. As she says at the close of the film: “You can’t start a story like Sindiso Magaqa and then lose steam halfway.”
Source: Al Jazeera
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—————————————————————- This diary is filed daily. ** Indicates new events —————————————————————-
TUESDAY, JUNE 2
** TALLINN – Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will visit Tallinn and meet with his counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. ** BUDAPEST- Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok and Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjárto meet in Budapest to discuss easing border restrictions in the region and also in the European Union. ** LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a cabinet meeting of his top ministers, a day after introducing new measures to relax a stringent lockdown. ** BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas receives Ukraine counterpart Kuyleba Dmytro in Berlin – 1000 GMT. ** LONDON- British Health Secretary Matt Hancock updates lawmakers on the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – 1130 GMT.
** MADRID – Spain’s economy minister Calvino to participate at session in senate – 1400 GMT.
BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba speak to reporters on the sidelines of a joint meeting. GREECE – Greek, Israeli and Cypriot energy ministers speak at a virtual conference on their energy partnership and its role in regional energy security and economic cooperation in the age of COVID-19. BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s top economy official, Valdis Dombrovskis, and France’s EU affairs minister, Amelie de Montchalin, discuss the proposed 750 billion euro economic stimulus plan on a webinar – 1400 GMT. BERLIN – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and presidential office head Andriy Yermak will pay a visit to Berlin.
– – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3
** ATHENS – Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion – 1500 GMT.
** WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin holds call with G7 finance ministers. ** WASHINGTON DC – International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva takes part in online forum – 1800 GMT. ** MOSCOW – WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge is to brief online Russian language media on COVID-19 – 1000 GMT. ** ROME – Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio meets French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Rome and hold joint news conference – 1600 GMT.
LONDON- UK financial services minister John Glen speaks on government priorities for recovery following COVID-19 at investment webinar – 0830 GMT. PRAGUE – Slovakia’s new Prime Minister Igor Matovic visits Prague to meet his counterpart Andrej Babis and other officials.
BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s climate chief, Frans Timmermans, presents an assessment of the EU member states’ national energy and climate plans.
– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, JUNE 4
** MADRID – Spain’s economy minister Nadia Calvino to participate in online economy forum – 0700 GMT. ** MADRID – The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, participates in “Nueva Economia Forum” online meeting – 0900 GMT. ** WASHINGTON DC – IMF spokesman Gerry Rice holds regular briefing to discuss global economy and the impact of the COVID-19pandemic on emerging market and developing countries – 1430 GMT. CHILE – 9th anniversary of Chile’s Puyehue volcano eruption, causing air traffic cancellations across South America, New Zealand, Australia.
HONG KONG – Tens of thousands attend a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.
BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU ministers of justice
BRUSSELS – Video conference of EU transport ministers – – – – – – – – – FRIDAY, JUNE 5
GREECE – The Economist holds conference entitled “Euro zone’s quest for a coronavirus vaccine.” Eurogroup’s head Mario Centeno, EU Commission’s Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Piraeus Bank Chief Executive Officer Christos Megalou will speak – 1430 GMT.
GLOBAL – World Environment Day.
SAINT KITTS and NEVIS – Kittitian and Nevisian National Assembly election. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 6
LJUBLJANA – Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio visits Slovenia.
SEOUL – South Korea marks the 65th anniversary of Memorial Day. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 8 BRUSSELS – European foreign affairs minister meet in Brussels. – – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JUNE 9
VIENNA – 179th Meeting of the OPEC Conference via video conference.
– – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10
VIENNA – 11th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting via video conference.
– – – – – – – – – THURSDAY, JUNE 11
DODOMA – Tanzania finance minister presents 2020/21 fiscal budget to parliament
NAIROBI – Kenya’s Finance Minister is scheduled to present the government’s budget for the 2020/21 fiscal year to parliament – 1200 GMT FREDRICK COUNTY, MARYLAND, U.S. – U.S. President Donald Trump hosts G7 leaders at Camp David (to June 12).
LUXEMBOURG – Eurogroup meeting. – – – – – – – – –
FRIDAY, JUNE 12
GLOBAL – World Day against Child Labour. – – – – – – – – –
SUNDAY, JUNE 14
GLOBAL – World Blood Donor Day.
GAZA – 13th anniversary of Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip from Fatah. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 15 GLOBAL – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). BRUSSELS – EU-UK officials meet to assess progress in Brexit talks ahead of EU summit
– – – – – – – – –
WENDESDAY, JUNE 17
GLOBAL – United Nation’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. MOSCOW – Russian Energy minister Alexander Valentinovich Novak attends a conference on COVID-19 and the future of energy sector. – – – – – – – – –
THURSDAY, JUNE 18
BRUSSELS – European Council meeting (to June 19).
– – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 20
GLOBAL – World Refugee Day. Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Parliament election. – – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JUNE 23 KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – APEC finance senior officials’ meeting (to June 25). – – – – – – – – –
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24 BERLIN – 72nd anniversary of beginning of The Berlin Blockade. Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize a massive airlift.
MOSCOW – Abkhazia’s President Aslan Bzhania will attend Moscow’s Victory Day parade, rescheduled by Russian President Vladimir Putin for June 24
CHISINAU – Moldovan President Igor Dodon will attend a military parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War. BRUSSELS – Vice president of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermans, presents the bloc’s smart sector integration.
Mongolia – Mongolian State Great Hural Election. – – – – – – – – –
THURSDAY, JUNE 25
LOS ANGELES – 11th death anniversary of pop star Michael Jackson. – – – – – – – – – FRIDAY, JUNE 26
GLOBAL – International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JUNE 27 Iceland – President election. – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JUNE 29 PYEONGTAEK – South Korea observes the 18th anniversary of an inter-Korean sea clash.
BEJING/TAIPEI – 10th Anniversary of signing of a landmark trade deal between China and Taiwan.
LUXEMBOURG – European ministers for agriculture and fisheries meet for talks. (to June 30). – – – – – – – – –
SUNDAY, JULY 5
Dominican Republic – Chamber of Deputies election. Dominican Republic – Senate election. Dominican Republic – President election.
– – – – – – – – –
TUESDAY, JULY 7
Malawi – President’s election. – – – – – – – – –
SATURDAY, JULY 18 RIYADH – Saudi Arabia hosts third meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh.(to July 19).
– – – – – – – – – TUESDAY, JULY 21
SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – Russia hosts SCO and BRICS summits (to July 23). – – – – – – – – –
MONDAY, JULY 27 MANILA – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte delivers State of the Nation address.
FRIDAY, July 31
VALPARAISO, Chile – Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera delivers the annual state of the nation address.
HANOI – Vietnam host 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings (to August 5).
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean that Reuters will file a story based on the event.
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