IEC to call for talks to defuse tension

2014-02-19 00:00

THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Community Safety and Liaison Department plan to engage political parties in a dialogue to quell tensions that may escalate into political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

This comes after NFP branch leader Ntombi Mzila was shot dead at kwaMashu hostel on Monday.

Mzila was killed after two NFP members, Zama Zungu and Nomusa Nhlengana, were shot and injured on Saturday while campaigning in the area.

Captain Thulani Zwane said yesterday that no arrests had been made in either incident.

Yesterday, NFP leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi visited the Mzila family and called on the police to arrest the perpetrators.

“I also appeal for calm within the NFP family and for our members to let the police do their work,” she said.

The two incidents, which have renewed fears of political violence in the province, have spurred the authorities to call on parties to ensure that there was free political activity in the build-up to May 7 elections day.

This as by-elections are planned for kwaMashu’s Ward 39 on March 26.

Provincial electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said they would soon make parties sign the electoral code of conduct in public.

“Legally we expect them to adhere and respect it at all times,” Mosery said.

He said the parties would be engaged in a dialogue through the multi-party forum and he also asked people to be calm and find solutions.

“We will interact with security on a continuous basis so that we can share information before these incidents take place.

“We have our people with capacity who focus on mediation and manage conflict, but the key is to encourage political parties to ensure peaceful campaigning across the province,” Mosery added.

Safety and Liaison Department spokesperson Sipho Khumalo said MEC Willies Mchunu was disturbed by what was happening in kwaMashu at a time the province was gearing itself for a conducive climate for the elections.

He said a plan for peaceful election was unveiled in December and programmes have since been rolled out.

One of the programmes included a radio public debate with the NFP, ANC and IFP at Estcourt in Umtshezi Municipality, an area recently plagued by violence.

Khumalo said Mchunu was urging people not to do things that would take the province back to the dark days of political violence.

“He is calling for restraint,” he said.

Khumalo added that a series of engagements would be held with parties through the multi-party forum and public debate was planned for Wembezi in the Uthukela District and also at Ladysmith.

While the eruption of violence in kwaMashu came as a surprise, Mosery said the rest of the province was fairly stable.

“We remain cautious around Mtshezi where there had been tension over two years,” he said.

He said the electoral body hoped things would stabilise before the upcoming by-election and the general elections.

The IEC will hold by-elections in kwaMashu, Jozini and Abaqulusi­ on March 26 after it conducted investigations when allegations of irregularities in the registration of voters were made.

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