By Nondumiso Mbuyazi
Political intolerance in KwaZulu-Natal has once again reared its ugly head, weeks before the elections. IFP members have accused ANC supporters of intimidation, assault and denying them their rights to campaign freely in Greytown on Sunday.
IFP provincial secretary, Bonginkosi Buthelezi, said more than 500 ANC supporters had prevented IFP members, including the mayor of the Umzinyathi District, Mbangiseni Yengwa, campaigning in the area when they blockaded the road and stoned their cars.
He added that the incident had happened in full view of the police, who failed to restore order.
Buthelezi said ANC members had defied their own party leadership, saying ANC regional chairperson in the Bhambatha area, Philani Mavundla, had made an attempt to control the unruly supporters, but to no avail.
"An impasse followed and lasted approximately two hours. Having been abandoned by the SAPS, the IFP delegation dispersed and found its way out of the ambush on its own," said Buthelezi.
He said several IFP members, including the district mayor, had been injured, adding that the party had opened a case of malicious damage to private property, intimidation and public violence at the Greytown police station.
Greytown police spokesperson Superintendent Sipho Maphalala confirmed the incident. "The case was opened and we are investigating."
Buthelezi said they had also reported the matter to the IEC and they expected the commission to take exemplary action against the ANC.
IEC spokesperson Mawethu Mosery said the IEC was very concerned with the increasing acts of intimidation and violence. He hoped that political parties would look for means to be politically tolerant of each other, especially leading up to the elections.
"The IFP reported the incident, and we will look into the matter. Political parties need to be aware that intimidation does not help them to retain votes they have in particular area, nor get new ones. It just doesn't work like that," he said.