Political advertising on taxis could add to violence

2009-03-14 00:00

Afew weeks ago, I attended a debate between the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Congress of the People and the African National Congress at a hotel on the North Beach of Durban.

Among the issues which were discussed was advertising on taxis. The IFP national chairperson, Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, expressed come serious concerns about the relationship between the ANC and the taxi organisations.

The taxi industry is notorious for sporadic, mafia-style violence and has been a hot potato for provincial and national governments. It has since become apparent that not only is the ANC taking advantage of this advertising platform, but other parties have jumped on the bandwagon in order to be more visible.

Fears have been raised here in KwaZulu-Natal because there are still pockets of no-go areas such as Nongoma, Vryheid and Ulundi. The ANC and the IFP have been working hard to protect their turfs and this has meant that they, at times, have reverted to violence. Cope has been on the receiving end of this violence.

The government has tried, although it has failed thus far, to regulate and organise the taxi industry, one that is worth billions of untaxed income. Clearly this would be a gold mine for SARS.

During the debate, Magwaza-Msibi rejected the practice of political parties advertising on taxis, but the IFP has obviously come to the realisation that “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

Many South Africans are not yet fully mature, politically speaking, as people are still unable to make political choices without their lives being in danger in certain areas.

Likewise, some parts of the population have serious qualms about placing political adverts on taxis and I would not be the least surprised if such taxis were attacked as a result of the intolerance. This would be in stark contrast to the freedoms of speech and choice which are some of the cornerstones of our Constitution.

Some people feel they have a divine right to their political choices, as well as those of others. With the global economic meltdown accompanied by high fuel prices, it’s a hard living for the taxi owners and their associations.

Some of the values the struggle for liberation were about are not being enjoyed, in some cases not even by the people who were behind the struggle, and this is a great travesty.

The taxi industry has plenty of violence to go around and does not need another dimension to the already complex web of war in the sector.

When political violence starts, it is not perpetrated by supporters who are acting remotely, but party structures are used and this violence is commissioned by the party. Officials and leaders are normally aware of this and they condone it.

This is why they have a huge role to play in eradicating this violence and a huge amount of political will is the answer.

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