Politics of tolerance

The events in Bloemfontein yesterday have shed light on the future of South African politics.

The events in Bloemfontein yesterday have shed light on the future of South African politics.

The ANC finally bestowed the party's highest honour, Isithwalandwe, on one of South Africa's most iconic freedom fighters, Chris Hani. And, the long-awaited launch of the Congress of the People (Cope) took place.

Many feared that the decision by the ANC and Cope to hold their rallies in the Free State capital would be a recipe for violence. Both parties attracted thousands of supporters to their events. Given the size of Bloemfontein, many thought the ANC's decision was provocative and their counter-argument was that they were entitled to organise anywhere in the country.

Happily, our fears of political violence and intolerance were unfounded.

Hopefully that will set the standard of political engagement going forward. Bloemfontein showed that regardless of differences, no locality should be out of reach for any political party. We hope that in the same way nobody was reported to have been coerced into joining one or other grouping, all South Africans will be free to exercise their political choices.

Yesterday ordinary South Africans and their leaders set a benchmark by the civility with which they handled their political differences. For that, they are the heroes.

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