Elections: Violence mars peace talks

2011-04-18 00:00

ON the day that political parties were debating the issue of peaceful elections, a Democratic Alliance member was stripped of his T-shirt and stabbed in Mpophomeni near Howick. The night before a National Freedom Party (NFP) candidate was shot and killed at his home in Cato Ridge

While the consensus is that KZN has come a long way from its violent past, the provincial head of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mawethu Mosery, told a gathering at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban on Thursday that there are still areas of concern.

Mosery said the IEC is worried about what he called “revenge psychology”. These start off as minor incidents like the removal of party posters and the locking of the doors to a hall preventing a political party from holding a meeting.

For instance, a party whose posters are removed decides to wait all night and remove all other parties’ posters as an act of revenge. Or party members who have been locked out of a venue wait until the rival party has a meeting, then disrupt it.

Mosery said there is always a danger that these minor incidents could lead to confrontations and quickly get out of hand.

He said the IEC is also concerned about hostels in eThekwini, where, for instance, election posters were defaced and shots fired into the air last week.

The gathering in Durban was organised by the Avusa media group in conjuction with Accord, the Democracy and Development Programme and Radio Gagasi. Speakers included Nhlakanipho Ntombela (ANC), Narend Singh (Inkatha Freedom Party) and Lindiwe Mazibuko (DA).

Ntombela told the audience it was the ANC that helped ensure there is peace in KwaZulu-Natal. He said party leader Dr Zweli Mkhize works hard at multi-party accord and dialogue, and the result has been a marked improvement in political tolerance.

He noted, however, that parts of Umlazi and KwaMashu in Durban could be called no-go areas for parties other than the IFP.

Singh said he could also list places where his party was prevented from campaigning. He invited political parties who were prevented from campaigning by IFP members to report such incidents to his party leadership.

He warned the ANC not to preach one thing and then do another. An example, he said, was a march planned by the ANC Youth League on the home of IFP leader Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi this weekend. He said such action is intimidatory and threatens the safety of the Buthelezi household.

Mazibuko said South Africa has come a long way and although there was a time when campaigning in certain areas would be life-threatening for DA members, there is now greater tolerance.

However, citing the Mpophomeni incident. She called on party leaders to live out the value of tolerance, put an end to name calling, stop playing the race card and make the election about local government issues.

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