DA urges ANC to stop hate speech

KwaDukuza DA councillor Thokozani Gumede says he is being followed by hit men. (Rogan Ward, M&G)

KwaDukuza DA councillor Thokozani Gumede says he is being followed by hit men. (Rogan Ward, M&G)

The chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Senzo Mchunu, has dismissed allegations by the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader in the province that he has been inciting political intolerance.

The DA's Sizwe Mchunu told the Mail & Guardian he had recently raised a motion in the legislature calling on Senzo Mchunu to be "more responsible in his utterances".

"When the ANC launched a campaign in Empangeni, he [Senzo  Mchunu] was quoted as saying that the ANC needs to get rid of the DA in black communities," he said. "A similar statement was made by him in Zululand.

"We feel that these statements, to an extent, amount to, and incite, political intolerance."

But Senzo Mchunu said he didn't "know what the DA leader was talking about".

"It was an event where we were launching a ground campaign and training volunteers," he said. "We said we want them to campaign very hard, especially in our townships and that they must replace the DA T-shirts with ANC gold T-shirts by winning the hearts and minds of people. I don't know what is violent about such a statement."

The DA's Mchunu spoke to the M&G after a DA councillor, Thokozani Gumede, said he had been forced to stay in hotels for the past three months after being followed by hit men hired to kill him by ANC followers in the Sakhamkhaya ward in the KwaDukuza municipality.

Gumede said that the DA had been rapidly gaining supporters in the ward, which had previously been dominated by the ANC. "This, together with the fact that I have been writing about corruption that is taking place in various projects in local newspapers has angered some members of the ANC and I strongly believe my life is in danger."

Gumede said that he had exposed a case in which more than 200 people on a list of potential beneficiaries for low-cost houses did not live in the ward. "It is alleged that they come from other areas and had to pay R500 only to secure their names on their list."

He also produced documents from the South African Police Service crime intelligence division recommending that the KwaDukuza municipality provide him with security guards, which had not happened.

Sizwe Mchunu said the DA was gaining momentum in other areas of the province previously dominated by the ANC. "It's a trend we are seeing everywhere in KZN. We now have councillors in areas like Bulwer and Kokstad where we've never previously been recognised as a political entity, and this trend poses a significant threat to the ANC."

He added that there were other reports of DA councillors and party members being threatened. "An SMS was sent to one of our members in which he was told that his days are numbered. One of our employees in Umzimyathi has had to take stress leave because he has been receiving anonymous threatening phone calls and his house was even broken into."

The ANC's Mchunu said he was not aware of Gumede's situation but that he would investigate the matter. He added that the party was focusing on the area around Estcourt where ANC councillors had been attacked and people associated with the National Freedom Party arrested. "We'd be worried if violence flared up anywhere, and we'd follow it up."



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