Address roots of political violence

2016-06-14 20:14

The roots of political violence must be addressed as a matter of extreme urgency as it can have far-reaching negative implications for our young democracy. (Zuma condemns 'senseless killings' in KZN, News 24, June 13).

To this day in places such as Richmond and Edendale, memories of the bloodshed are still engraved in the minds of many people who recall the bloody violence that erupted in the Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) during the recent past. The violent scenes, suffering, pain and panic remain a stark reminder of the horrors.

Anthea Jeffery writes in her book The Natal Story: Sixteen years of conflict (1997), in the decade from 1985 to 1995, thousands of people died, injured, rendered homeless or became refugees during violence in KZN.

According to a media statement released by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) over the past five years there have been about 50 politically related killings, occurring predominantly in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. In this regard the SAHRC is gravely concerned that 22 years into democracy, political killings – brutal reminders of our tumultuous past – are still happening. Political turmoil and killings affect and violate not only the victims’ right to life, but also the capacity of the State to deliver services.

Although the current violence being witnessed will, hopefully, not take us back to the past it is not good for democracy as it creates panic and fear; perpetrators need to be mindful of the corollaries or outcomes.

The desire to be on the political lists should be based on merit, experience and commitment. Getting into a political position in order to obtain tenders, furthering political ambitions should not be the objective. The object should be to serve the immediate needs of the voters.

Violent protest is not the way to resolve issues. Above all, people must be allowed to express themselves freely without fear of intimidation or for their lives.

We cannot afford any obstacles that may thwart the upcoming local elections. Local elections are very important as it deals with issues that affect us directly. Use the ballot box to create a better life and future for all who live in South Africa.

As we look forward to the local government elections, let’s join our efforts to promote a culture of human rights, rule of law, service delivery, good governance, transparency and accountability. Let’s learn to agree to disagree and respect each other and work towards the greater and common good.

Democracy needs active citizen support and the best support is for people to get involved in their local communities at every level. In a new democracy like South Africa, active citizenship is one of the most important requirements towards nation building and creating healthy communities.

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