SOWETAN | Intolerance before polls a red flag

May 29 has been declared a public holiday as it is officially declared election day.
May 29 has been declared a public holiday as it is officially declared election day.

The ugly scenes that played out in KwaCeza outside Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend ought to raise alarm bells about acts of violence and political intolerance ahead of the polls.

The situation where 11 ANC supporters were left injured after allegedly being attacked by IFP members cannot be seen outside the history of violence and political intolerance that often characterise periods building up to elections.

According to reports, following the 110th commemoration of King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo’s event where President Cyril Ramphosa spoke on Saturday, attacks were carried out that left a number of people hospitalised.

One of the victims of the attack, Thulani Sibiya, is recovering in the intensive care unit after he suffered a wound in the head and bruises on one of his arms.

His brother-in-law Mduduzi Ntumba told Sowetan Sibiya could not recognise anyone when they visited, including his mother.

“He is not well at all, [and] he couldn’t even recognise us. We are all so shocked and his wife has not been able to see him yet because she lives far from the hospital. He got married to his wife in December. Nothing we can say will make sense at this point,” Ntumba said.

With elections two months away, this weekend’s perverse conduct should be a source of concern for all, not least in KZN where such incidents and political killings have been regular occurrences. Yet, we hardly hear of the unmasking of politicians behind such dastardly acts by law enforcement agencies.

With the stakes very high in the coming elections, especially in provinces like KZN where parties like the IFP, DA, EFF and other opposition are looking to dislodge ANC from power, violence cannot be one of the means tolerated.

For our democracy to thrive, political party activities and contests must be characterised by tolerance, respect for others and the triumph of the will of the majority at the polls. The use of violence unfortunately creates a tense atmosphere where people cannot freely exercise their democratic rights by campaigning or showing support to whomever they wish to vote for.

We urge the government and law enforcement agencies to act now to prevent this intimidating election-time environment from taking grip of the country as we head closer to May 29.

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