IFP, NFP leaders commit to peace

2011-08-24 12:05

Leaders of the IFP and its recently formed breakaway party, the National Freedom Party (NFP), have committed themselves to non-violence following the initial peace talks between the two parties.

A terse joint communiqué issued after the first round of talks in Durban yesterday commits the two parties to rejecting violence and working towards “attaining peace in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere in our country’’.

The two parties, whose relations have been antagonistic since the NFP’s launch earlier this year, also committed themselves to continued bilateral meetings aimed at resolving their differences and ensuring a climate for free political activity.

NFP president Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and her former mentor, IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, had agreed to the talks after a series of seemingly politically motivated killings in the province, which she said had claimed the lives of 14 NFP members since January.

Yesterday’s talks were led by the IFP’s acting national chairperson, Bhekisisa Mthethwa, and NFP national working committee member Professor Nhlanhla Khubisa. Both sides will report back to their party leaders before issuing a more comprehensive statement, the communiqué said.

Mthethwa and Khubisa said the meeting took place in a “conciliatory’’ spirit and a “commitment to cooperation’’ and dealt with “critical issues’’ affecting both parties and their members.

The youth wings of both parties have backed the talks, which are seen as a key way to lower political temperatures between the two parties, which draw their membership from in the main the rural parts of the province.

Relations had soured so badly that Magwaza-Msibi last week met with police leadership in the province to try and force a more vigorous approach to solving the political killings and providing security for NFP activists and leaders in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Her home constituency, the Zululand District Municipality, long a stronghold of the IFP, has been worst hit by political violence both before and after the local government elections.

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