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KwaZulu-Natal - Political parties in KwaZulu-Natal must exercise tolerance to stop the spate of political killings, community safety MEC Willies Mchunu said on Thursday.
“We call upon political parties to educate their constituencies on political tolerance and democracy,” he told the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg.
In a speech prepared for delivery, Mchunu asked Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to reconsider the formation of a national intervention task team to address these killings.
“We will welcome any kind of intervention that will be considered by the minister of police.
“We do have confidence (in) the police and provincial commissioner in KwaZulu-Natal but... we feel that national will bring more resources and necessary expertise to assist our provincial police.”
He said the province had seen an increase in the number of politically-related killings in the second part of 2011 and in 2012.
Police had reported political instability in Margate, Vryheid, Dundee, KwaMashu, Estcourt, Greytown, KwaDukuza, Umlazi T-section, Jacobs and SJ Smith hostels, he said.
“This owes largely to power struggles between different political parties, as well as internal leadership struggles.”
Mchunu gave details of 35 possibly politically-related murders in these areas since mid-2011. Seventeen people had been arrested in connection with these killings.
He said the provincial multi-party political oversight committee on interventions - set up prior to the local government elections last year - was developing strategies to address political violence.
“The approach of the multi-party political committee is to alert members of parties of the importance of peaceful negotiations where arguments or disagreements surface, particularly those of a political nature.
“Through this mechanism, the leadership of the parties are able to intervene to stabilise conflict situations,” he said.
However, Inkatha Freedom Party provincial legislature leader Blessed Gwala questioned whether this commission was effective.
“Whenever the IFP has brought matters relating to politically-motivated violence to the attention of this House, we were promptly referred to this commission.
“But has this commission done anything to address these issues?”
One of the reasons for the continuing violence was that the government had no solution to the problem, he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
“It lacks strategy as well as institutional capacity to deal with violence effectively.”
He condemned the political killings, but was disappointed that the KwaZulu-Natal government was only acting now that a high-profile ANC member had been killed.
He was referring to the murder of Ugu district municipality ANC chief whip Wandile Mkhize in Port Shepstone on June 30.
“We are concerned that too many politically-motivated murders that have plagued the province in recent months and years did not warrant this kind of attention, simply because their victims did not hail from the ANC.”
Gwala said the political violence in the province during the apartheid years had created a “fractured and intolerant society”.
“Delayed reconciliation between the ANC and the IFP has denied closure to thousands of families in the province.”
This manifested in ongoing low-level political intimidation in KwaZulu-Natal between elections, with an upsurge in the build-up to them, he said.
The IFP supported the idea of a peace summit for all political parties in the province.
“The IFP strongly believes that the inter-party conflicts that still exist today must be solved now, before they develop into something larger and more sinister,” Gwala said. - Sapa