Stabilising problem areas

2014-04-16 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal multi-party political intervention committee plans to visit KwaMashu and Estcourt to help stabilise the two areas ahead of the elections.

Community Safety and Liaison spokesperson Sipho Khumalo said yesterday the committee, which now consists of 18 parties contesting provincial elections, would hold meetings with the communities of Estcourt and KwaMashu next Tuesday and the following week respectively.

Khumalo said prayer meetings were also scheduled as part of ensuring there was stability and an environment for free and fair elections in the areas that had experienced politically related deaths.

He added that more police have been deployed in KwaMashu and that there was a full-time departmental team working with stakeholders, the Independent Electoral Commission and political parties.

The local parties signed a code of conduct prior to the recent by-election and there is an arrangement aimed at limiting clashes when parties campaign there. “The topography and mushrooming of shacks made KwaMashu difficult to police,” he said.

He described Estcourt, where two months ago the NFP youth leader was wounded, as having normalised.

“While there may be tensions, there is nothing serious compared to previous times.”

Khumalo said even Nongoma, which in the past was known as a no-go area, now experienced free political activity.

He added it is the view of MEC Willies Mchunu that the situation in KZN was unlike in the previous elections when there were many deaths.

“All political parties have committed to work towards the creation of an atmosphere that is free and fair for the elections.”

While parties confirmed that Estcourt and KwaMashu were high priority problem areas, they also named Ulundi and others where they had experienced problems with their rivals when campaigning.

NFP secretary-general Nhlanhla Khubisa said the IEC should apply the code of conduct on parties that flouted it and that the police must arrest those responsible so that all parties could campaign freely. IFP’s Blessed Gwala urged leaders of political parties to co-operate with police to combat political violence.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala called for co-operation among parties and the arrest of those fuelling violence.

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