ANC gets Stoned in Conflict Before Elections

By Tessa Trafford

On Tuesday, 24 February, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) lodged a complaint against the African National Congress (ANC) with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), requesting that they reconsider the ANC’s eligibility to run in the upcoming national elections. The IFP claimed that, due to the violence between the two parties, which they blame the ANC for inciting, the request had to be made to ensure “fair play”.

However, the ANC continues to deny responsibility for the violence taking place, saying, that it was IFP supporters who incited it. In early February there was a mudslinging match between the two parties and their respective youth committees, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and the IFP Youth Brigade (IFPYB).

Julius Malema, president of the ANCYL, said that the ANC would campaign in areas where IFP support is strong. Malema went as far as to say that they would campaign in IFP president’s, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, back garden. This angered IFP supporters and members, provoking an irate reaction amongst the predominantly Kwa-Zulu Natal based supporters.

IFPYB spokesman, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, said that “if the ANC provokes us then they must expect a reaction,” and promised Malema and the ANC that their reaction “will not be mild”. The ANCYL did not take this lying down and re-emphasised their claim that they would campaign anywhere they wanted. They also added that they would report the IFPYB to the Human Rights Commission for threatening to use violence.

In an attempt to play the peace maker, the Democratic Alliance (DA) asked the two parties to “tone down” their language. Following the bout, ANC Deputy Provincial Secretary for Kwa-Zulu Natal, Sihle Zikalala, accused IFP supporters of blocking and stoning busses carrying ANC supporters. The police had to become involved, using tear gas to disperse the crowd.

One ANC supporter, Siphiwe Sangweni, said “they started by blocking our bus, then stoned it,” adding that “the whole episode was really scary and we were protected by the police who used tear gas to disperse them.” Following the stoning, three ANC supporters were shot as they left an ANC rally in Nongoma in Northern Zulu land. Although it is alleged that those firing the bullets were IFP members, the IFP denies any involvement with these incidents. With South Africa’s fourth democratic elections less than two months away, fear that confrontations may rise is growing in prevalence. However, the South African Police Service, as well as the IEC, have expressed their assurance that a peaceful election will take place come 22 April.

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