Old enemies can set tone

Tensions are running high for these elections and, ironically, it will be up to the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party to set the tone this weekend for the campaign.

Tensions are running high for these elections and, ironically, it will be up to the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party to set the tone this weekend for the campaign.

The two old antagonists are both holding important rallies on Sunday at the once IFP stronghold of Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

These traditional adversaries have the opportunity to show newcomers on the political scene how to conduct electoral affairs in a stable democracy - or they can allow their hotheads to seize control of a political situation fraught with bristling tensions.

We hope heavy police presence in the area will not be required to prevent opportunists on both sides bating their opponents into violence.

Party president Jacob Zuma will speak at the ANC rally and the IFP will call on regional leaders to whip up support in this rural stronghold where rivalries have all too often led to bloodshed.

The police are scratching their heads over the local authorities' decision to sanction both rallies at the same time.

But surely we have progressed so far in our democracy that we can treat electioneering as a normal event that does not require rivals to be caged in separate areas like wild animals.

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