Monday, October 27, 2008

Beating the war drums

We must protect the rights of other political formations and parties.

We must protect the right to hold meetings, to talk to people.”

But Zuma has been ominously quiet.

He must speak out now in very clear terms against this sort of intimidation.AS the battle lines are being drawn between Mosiuoa Lekota’s supporters and those of ANC president Jacob Zuma, there are ominous signs that the confrontation will turn nasty.

On Thursday Lekota’s supporters had to be escorted to a meeting venue in Orange Farm outside Johannesburg by armoured vehicles as Zuma’s supporters attempted to prevent the meeting from taking place.

There was one victim, an old woman who was smacked around by the mob before being rescued. As the election approaches and the two parties confront each other across the country, South Africa’s public order policing ability will be sorely tested.

Thanks to a policy decision to do away with the old “riot police” the authorities have found themselves wanting.

Look at the recent attacks on foreigners. There were insufficient police to deal with the situation and eventually the military had to be called in.

This will not be a good advertisement for democracy. Troops bearing machine guns separating opponents at political rallies. It will take us back to the bitter violent confrontation between the ANC and the IFP ahead of the 94 election, a conflict which was characterised by intolerance, “no-go areas” and the like.

Lekota and Zuma must meet now and agree to a common public statement against the use of violence and intimidation.

Lekota has commendably called on his supporters to be tolerant and not to disrupt the activities of the Zuma camp, saying: “If they say you are dogs, don’t call them dogs… Those of you who were in the ANC and have T-shirts of the ANC, you must not burn them. “We must not allow throwing stones, don’t throw stones back. If they go and burn someone’s house, don’t go and burn their house.

UPDATE 27/10/2008: ANCYL replies to the article above from The Citizen - ANCYL "outraged" by Citizen report on Malema

27/10/2008 - Shilowa appeals for political tolerance

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