Calls for political tolerance after shooting injures two NFP canvassers

2014-02-17 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL violence monitor Mary de Haas has called on leaders of political parties to communicate better after clashes between ANC, IFP and NFP members this weekend.

“The leaders of the ANC, IFP and NFP must make it clear to their followers that we have democracy and that they must ensure parties campaign freely. Leadership has a responsibility to ensure that their followers behave properly and that they must be seen to be disciplined,” said De Haas.

Two NFP members were wounded in a shooting at KwaMashu after NFP and IFP supporters clashed on Saturday.

While both the IFP and NFP condemned the violence, they gave different accounts of what led to the incident.

On Friday, the NFP claimed that ANC members burnt tyres and barricaded roads when they went to campaign in Shongweni.

The ANC could not be reached for comment as its leadership was locked up in a meeting yesterday.

IFP spokesperson Joshua Mazibuko said the incident was unfortunate.

“We condemn any form of violence,” Mazibuko said.

He also said people had a right to choose any party and that organisations should be allowed to campaign anywhere.

Speaking to the media at her manifesto launch in Durban, NFP leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi said peace was needed in the build-up to the elections.

“We want tranquillity in KZN and other provinces,” she said, calling on the Independent Electoral Commission to call a meeting with parties where they should commit to free political activity.

She said 20 000 people had been killed in political violence in KZN.

Addressing thousands of supporters afterwards, she said the NFP would retaliate in the polls on May 7 and also asked her supporters not to engage in political intolerance.

De Haas said political leaders should preach freedom of association and suggested arrangements for parties to campaign in strongholds of others.

“It may be a good idea for them to discuss that if some leaders of one party campaign in one area on one day, others may not come to campaign as well on that same day,” De Haas said.

She added that where there was doubt about possible tension during campaigns, police should be alerted to conduct patrols. “The police must act impartially when there is potential of violence,” De Haas said.

Commenting on the KwaMashu incident, Colonel Jay Naicker said no arrests have been made yet. “A detective task team has been set up to investigate the incident and we are confident they will get to the bottom of this case,” he said.

Naicker also said the public order police unit has since been deployed to the area.

“We urge all parties that plan to hold events in future to inform local police so that we can monitor such events to prevent incidents such as these from occurring,” he said.

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