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Durban - Tension between the National Freedom Party and the IFP flared up at the weekend with the shooting of two women, both NFP members, in KwaMashu’s tightly contested hostel area.
Both parties had been campaigning for the elections when the shootings occurred.
NFP members say they were in the area visiting an elderly member when a group of about 100 IFP members approached and allegedly fired shots at them.
Mgezeni Gwala, 66, the councillor for Ward 39, said the IFP members were en route to the Princess Magogo Stadium where party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was to speak.
He said shots were fired into the air and a few rounds in the NFP members’ direction when they saw them.
“That’s when they hit the two women who were with us,” Gwala said.
He said NFP members had not planned for their campaigning to coincide with that of the IFP, adding that the situation was regrettable.
“We didn’t confront each other, they just shot at us on sight,” he said.
The IFP denied that its members were responsible.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said Nomusa Nhlengana was shot on the left hip, Zama Zungu, 40, was shot in the stomach. He said that the motive of the incident is unknown and no arrest had been made.
Addressing a manifesto launch yesterday NFP president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi lashed out at the IFP, saying it was intolerant of dissent.
“Even many people who are members of the IFP are there because they fear that they would be killed if they leave and join other parties.”
She said the Independent Electoral Commission should call an urgent meeting of the political parties in KZN so as to resolve such issues.
IFP national chairman Blessed Gwala, however, said the NFP was just trying to score cheap political points by dragging the IFP into the shooting incident.
Gwala said instead of pointing fingers at the IFP, the NFP leaders who were making the claims should have forwarded all the information they had to the police.
He warned that such posturing had the potential to brew more violence.
“The IFP abhors violence no matter who commits such,” he said.
Gwala said the IFP was always accommodating to all parties, but said the NFP “cannot point fingers and then want to sit with us”.
“They cannot even sit around themselves because of the tensions that are there, how can they then sit with us?”
Violence monitor Mary de Haas warned that more incidents of political violence could be expected as the elections drew closer.
This is because both the NFP and the IFP would be fiercely contesting to be the official opposition, should the ANC win again.
“But we also still have to see what will happen when the EFF starts campaigning in ANC areas in this province and that can be a real challenge.”
De Haas said political leaders had to take charge if they were serious about peace by ensuring that members involved in acts of political intolerance and violence were disciplined.
“The problem is that most parties do not want to alienate any of their members ahead of the elections,” she said.
De Haas also called on political parties to inform the police especially when campaigning in volatile areas.
“If they are going into highly contested areas they should inform the police and then hold the police accountable,” she said.
KaMagwaza-Msibi called for peace, saying her party did not want to see KwaZulu-Natal descending into violence.
“We are saying to the other political parties they should stop this barbaric behaviour.”
She urged party members not to retaliate when provoked, saying they should not stoop to the low levels of their political opponents.