Violent rhetoric

2008-11-27 00:00

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) made a timely and welcome intervention by inviting all political parties to attend a one-day national summit in Durban this week on the topic of political tolerance. This was prompted by stark evidence of what the IEC’s chairwoman, Brigalia Bam, called “the rhetoric of violence and coercion” in some recent party-political discourse.

Volatility has been a feature of elections in this country since the advent of democracy in 1994. There are signs that it could be a strong element in the run-up to the election of 2009. This is primarily because of the divisions within the African National Congress, most vividly shown in the breakaway Congress of the People (Cope). It is a healthy sign that public apologies for intemperate speech have recently been forthcoming from both sides of this conflict. Julius Malema, president of the ANC’s Youth League, has at last acknowledged that his declared willingness to “kill for Zuma” could be construed as incitement to violence. The leadership of Cope has unconditionally withdrawn a remark by its youth leader, Anele Mda, that Jacob Zuma is a rapist and a comment by Willie Madisha that Zuma is South Africa’s Stalin.

Zuma himself needs to accept that his renditions of Umshini Wami may well have precipitated some of the violent language being used at public gatherings. A small flame can easily precipitate a veld fire, and it is time, with the election countdown already under way, that he refrains from singing this inflammatory song.

The leadership of the ANC is uncomfortably poised between the calming, taciturn presence of President Kgalema Motlanthe and the chameleon-like variabilities of Zuma. What is missing is coherence and a cohesive statesmanship. There is constantly a danger that wild and dangerous speech will fill the vacuum. The leadership of Cope, meanwhile, has to move away from being a loud spoiling presence into becoming a proper contender on matters of policy, not personalities.

It is reassuring that the IEC functions as a guardian of the process towards the election next year and will continue to insist on due standards of tolerance and mutual respect.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.