Anti-Indian group eyes votes

2014-02-05 00:00

A KWAZULU-NATAL party pitching anti-Indian sentiment has been registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and is poised to contest the provincial elections.

Ubumbano Lwesizwe Sabangoni leader Mehlwenkosi Hamilton Buthelezi yesterday said his party was already canvassing for votes across the province.

“It is important that KZN people have people who represent their needs in Parliament. They are not well represented by the current parties,” Buthelezi said.

He also said the party represented the black people of Nguni origin of KZN, who are marginalised in the provincial economy.

Buthelezi insisted that Indians, Chinese, Pakistanis and other foreigners of white origin were in control of the province’s economy.

“The people of KZN are not looked after by the government. The foreigners are the ones who benefit most in the economy,” he said, adding that other countries prioritised their indigenous people.

Buthelezi said Indians — who have also come under attack from a similar outfit Mazibuye African Forum — did not form part of the “black people of KZN”.

“We regard them as foreigners and that is why we exclude them from our organisation. They were brought to South Africa by the whites without our consent,” Buthelezi said.

The party, formed in 2009, was registered with the IEC late last year to take forward the economic struggle of the Africans in the province. It claims to have 27 000 followers and plans to hold a massive rally in Durban on March 15.

The emergence of the party comes in the wake of Mazibuye African Forum (MAF), which believes the KZN economy is controlled by the Indians, and the Imbumba Business Empowerment Group, which threatened to boycott the elections if the ANC did not stop awarding tenders to Indians.

Although MAF and Ubumbano are separate formations, they share the same sentiments on the exclusion of Indians from black economic empowerment and affirmative action.

MAF founding member Zweli Sangweni distanced the forum from Ubumbano and only confirmed that Buthelezi was a member.

“I heard about them over the radio. We do not work with or support any other organisation,” Sangweni said.

Political analysts said the emergence of these groupings was a wake up call to government to attend to their concerns.

SA Institute of Race Relations researcher Georgina Alexander said racial tensions often emanated from competition.

“In this case it appears that competition over scarce resources, such as money and access to government tenders, seem to be the root causes for the establishment of these associations,” Alexander said.

“Ultimately, the only way to combat these racial tensions is to deal with the economic and social inequalities that exist in South Africa, which includes unemployment, poverty, and poor education in general,” she said.

Political analyst Prince Mashele said the matter required political intervention by the leaders.

“They must not deny the existence of the grievances, but investigate and act on them.”

Mashele also said it was possible that the emergence of the anti-Indian groups was driven by individuals who want to do business with government but don’t get any.

“In order for them to advance their grievances, they mobilise society and say Zulus are marginalised and beneficiaries are foreigners or Indians. It is these petty, jealous elements of business who think they are entitled to benefit from the state,” Mashele said.

The formation of anti-Indian groupings has already spurred the KZN provincial government to establish task teams aimed at starting engagement with affected parties and analyse awarding of provincial government tenders.

Reacting to the latest development, Premier Senzo Mchunu’s spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said the task teams were expected to furnish a progress report to the meeting of the executive council today.

“The matter will come under discussion in the cabinet,” he said.

However, Mashele said he doubted the party would have a foothold in the elections considering the KZN ANC has a strong following due to the decline of the IFP, and President Jacob Zuma leading the country as a Zulu.

“The Zulu identity is more attached to the ANC than sub-regional forces. This new organisation won’t dent the support base of the ANC,” he said.

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