Zuma backs cleansing ceremony
Pietermaritzburg - President Jacob Zuma on Sunday praised the KwaZulu-Natal government for arranging a cleansing ceremony to help reconcile ANC and IFP members.
“That is good leadership. Ceremonies of this nature are very important. It will help people to reconcile and move forward with life,” he said at the ceremony, held at the Vulindlela sports ground, Pietermaritzburg.
Reconciliation would make it easier for development to take place in the area, he said.
The ceremony was aimed at bringing together people at loggerheads during the political violence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The conflicts were mainly between African National Congress and Inkatha Freedom Party members.
The latter however boycotted the ceremony, claiming it was electioneering by the ruling party.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize and traditional leaders were present.
People affected by violence said they were happy they had been given an opportunity to reconcile.
“We are happy because there was no cleansing ritual when the conflicts ended. We will now move on with life and there will be no tensions,” said Nomagugu Zondi.
She said it was unfortunate IFP leaders had boycotted the ceremony.
“They have missed the opportunity. I believe they have made a huge mistake.”
Zondi said she did not think the function was aimed at electioneering.
“It may have helped to boost the image of the ANC-led provincial government, but no one campaigned for the ANC today,” she said.
IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango last week said he was convinced the ruling party was not being "genuine" about the event, and that this could "confuse" IFP members in the area.
"Not enough ground work has been done to prepare the people in the area (for the gathering). The IFP and the ANC still have a lot of issues to talk about."
Mkhize denied claims the function was being used to drum up ANC support for elections.
"Traditional leaders and regiments under uMgungundlovu district municipality approached the provincial government with the request to be assisted towards performing this ceremony," he said told Sapa.
The "regiments" were involved in a series of fights in the past which had claimed many lives.
The provincial government believed it was important to reconcile.
"Although the violence ended... some people are still scared to meet other people because of what they did to them. This is because there has never been reconciliation.”
He said he was happy people were not wearing T-shirts advertising political parties to the event.
Zwelithini commended the provincial government for promoting reconciliation.
“I like leaders who preach peace and reconciliation. I wouldn't have been here if I did not believe in the importance of reconciliation,” he told the crowd.
Ten cows were slaughtered on Saturday night as part of the cleansing ritual, conducted by the Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as the Shembe Church.
In Zulu culture, cleansing rituals were conducted after wars.