Vryburg - The Inkatha Freedom Party has laid charges with police after IFP election campaigners were assaulted, allegedly by African National Congress members in the North West, the IFP said on Saturday.

While alleging that some police officers in the province were "biased", IFP national chairman Blessed Gwala called on Police Minister Bheki Cele to ensure that those accused of assaulting IFP members in Vryburg in the North West were arrested with immediate effect.

"The IFP has opened a case with the South African Police Service (case number: 52/04/2019) of assault at Huhudi police station in Vryburg after IFP supporters in Vryburg in North West province were assaulted [allegedly] by ANC members while campaigning for the party. Further to this, all IFP posters were vandalised," he said.

The IFP campaigners were attacked because they were "being accused of creating confusion among the North West residents by promoting the IFP which the ANC labelled as a 'Zulu party'". 

Propaganda was a powerful thing. It could shape opinions, relationships, voting patterns, and nations. One of the biggest problems the IFP faced in other provinces was the misconception that the party was reserved for Zulu-speaking people. The IFP had been subjected to a great deal of propaganda over the years with the intention of confusing the electorate and damaging their reputation. It was all part of a “long campaign of propaganda and vilification promoted by the ANC", Gwala said.

"We are concerned about the attitude of the Huhudi police station as they have not arrested the accused, but they are known in the community and they are roaming out there in the street without any fear of being arrested. 

"We are now convinced that Huhudi police officers are biased and are in cahoots with the ANC. It is a well known fact that if it was ANC members the police would have worked around the clock to arrest the suspects and even offer a reward for those with information to assist the police in their investigation, but because it is IFP supporters police seem to be trying do everything to sweep this issue under the carpet.

"We therefore, demand that Minister Bheki Cele must tell us whether Huhudi police officers have been instructed not to investigate cases involving ANC members in North West. He must institute his own investigation into why the police have failed to arrest ANC members that attacked IFP members. As the IFP we believe that all cases must be prioritised irrespective of political affiliation. Rather, it is an opportunity for the SAPS to act with professionalism, neutrality, and respect for the individuals they are constitutionally tasked to protect," Gwala said.

"We have [also] reported this matter to the IEC [Electoral Commission of South Africa] so that action must be taken against the ANC. This is indicative that the ANC is afraid if it sees that the IFP’s support is growing in North West," he said.

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African News Agency (ANA)