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21 Feb 2009 07:34
The Inkatha Freedom Party has chosen an alternative venue for a meeting which was to take place metres away from an African National Congress rally, the party said on Friday.
The rival parties were set to hold rallies in Nseleni in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday at venues a stone’s throw from each other.
The ruling party attempted to stymie the resulting “chaos” it felt would ensue if both the meetings were to proceed, by lodging an urgent application at the Pietermaritzburg High Court to prevent the IFP meeting.
The matter was to have been heard at 9am on Saturday, but the IFP on Friday evening said it would hold its rally in Emganwini.
“We are determined not to give the ANC any pretext to portray the IFP as a perpetrator of politically-motivated violence in KwaZulu-Natal ahead of the April 22 election.
“We have decided to hold our rally elsewhere,” said IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango.
Nseleni is seen as an IFP stronghold, as is Nongoma, where ANC supporters were attacked while going to a rally in January, following a war of words between ANC and IFP leaders.
Three people were shot and injured.
After the Nongoma incident, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and ANC president Jacob Zuma held talks on their members’ political intolerance, later issuing a statement condemning violence and intimidation ahead of the elections.
The ANC also lodged a complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission.
“Our view is that the IFP has taken a deliberate long-term view that they will never allow the ANC to freely campaign in Ulundi and Nongoma, even if that results in the death of their opponents,” said Dr Zweli Mkhize, the province’s ANC chairperson after the violence on February 1.
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema also added fuel to the fire by calling at the time for his party members to campaign in IFP strongholds.
This drew a sharp condemnation from the the IFP Youth Brigade spokesperson Thulasizwe Buthelezi, who said campaigning in the backyard of the party’s leader would trigger a serious reaction from IFP supporters.
“It is an act of extreme provocation and an unforgivable insult for Julius Malema to say that he will campaign in Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s backyard and that he will go and recruit Prince Buthelezi’s children to join the ANC.
While the ANC welcomed the IFP’s decision about the Nseleni rally, it said it would need “confirmation” that the IFP would not disrupt its event or its supporters.
Mawethu Mosery, the IEC chief electoral officer in KwaZulu-Natal, said the electoral code of conduct stated that parties should refrain from holding meetings at the same time in the same place.
He said the IEC would prefer it if “a solution was found without having to go to court”.
“We would be happier if they interacted to resolve this matter,” he said.
The IFP said it planned to present a dossier to the IEC detailing complaints against the ANC, specifically around the ruling party holding rallies at the same time and in the same place in which it had scheduled meetings, said Mncwango.
“We are sick and tired of this ... and we are not the only ones to complain, Cope [Congress of the People] has complained, the DA [Democratic Alliance] has complained, UDM [United Democratic Movement] has complained,” he said.
Mosery said the IEC had received a submission on the Nongoma incident and would be discussing the matter with the parties.
Dandala in Soweto
Meanwhile, Newly appointed Cope president Mvume Dandala was expected to attend an election rally in Jabulani on Saturday morning, officials at the Soweto venue said.
Mvume (57) was elected as the party’s presidential candidate ahead of the elections.
The rally is expected to be addressed by Cope leader Mbazima Shilowa, but officials at the amphitheatre said Dandala would be attending the event as well. - Sapa
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