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By Sydney Majoko

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Leaders need move beyond divisive tactics in addressing ethnic tensions in KZN

Political killings are happening right within government buildings in the most volatile province… just two months away from the elections.


KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is obviously the province to win in next month’s national election and all the big players believe they’re in with a chance to win: the ANC, the DA, IFP and the new kids on the block, the MK party. It would be a beautiful thing in SA politics if that’s all it came down to, the choice of the voter. But this “swing” province will always be a time bomb, with no-one knowing how long it has till it goes off. ALSO READ: ANC to deploy uMkhonto weSizwe war vets in KZN to counter MK party threat This…

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KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is obviously the province to win in next month’s national election and all the big players believe they’re in with a chance to win: the ANC, the DA, IFP and the new kids on the block, the MK party.

It would be a beautiful thing in SA politics if that’s all it came down to, the choice of the voter. But this “swing” province will always be a time bomb, with no-one knowing how long it has till it goes off.

ALSO READ: ANC to deploy uMkhonto weSizwe war vets in KZN to counter MK party threat

This past Thursday, videos of the killing of two bodyguards at the Umhlazuthe municipal offices went viral. The videos, captured on CCTV, are chilling; not for sensitive viewers.

But even more chilling is the brazenness of the warring factions. They did not make even the slightest attempts to hide their faces so they cannot be identified later.

Political killings are happening right within government buildings in the most volatile province… just two months away from the elections.

In the days just before this, the two biggest political rivals in the province were going at each other in court, fighting not just over who owns the name uMkhonto weSizwe, but also the position of the spear on the logo of Jacob Zuma’s MK party.

ALSO READ: MK party wants Zuma on ballot even if it means changing Constitution

In a mature and modern democracy, these would be comical acts that would lighten the mood of the campaigning season. But in a province where the final arbiter between opponents is a gun, there is no guarantee that a court ruling will be the end of the matter. The triggers that could set off the bomb in the battle between Jacob Zuma and the ANC.

The ANC and the IFP are laced not only with undertones of ethnic tensions, but also the full history of the so-called black-on-black violence that dominated the headlines just before the 1994 elections. And it rests with the leaderships on either side of the divide to tread carefully in the next 60 days.

In the battle to win KZN, a lot of veiled threats will be made in the most casual of settings. The current one that seems to set off no immediate alarms is “if MK is not allowed to contest we will loot”, often said jokingly.

ALSO READ: MK party worried about Zuma’s safety after second crash

This is the threat to unleash the forces that shred KZN and some parts of Gauteng in July 2021. The problem with this supposedly comical threat is it threatens stability in KZN, even after the elections. What happens when they don’t win where they believe they should have won?

The most responsible thing among the big parties contesting in KZN is not preparing their supporters for what happens when they win the poll, but what happens when they do not win the poll. Parties must be honest with their membership – there are no guaranteed positions in politics, everything is contested.

People need to be taught that losing an election is not the end. The ultimate victor in KZN will not be the party that gets the most votes. That might mean nothing in the end because a coalition government almost look certain.

The party that will score the biggest in that province will be the one that prepares its supporters for life after losing political office.

There is an expectation that career politicians in the ANC and IFP will not handle losing political office all that well. Add MK to that mix and the bomb becomes even more potent.

ALSO READ: Four life terms for a man who gunned down three Mkhize family members in KZN

It’s time leaders moved away from veiled threats and using age-old divisive methods that play on fragile ethnic tensions.

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