Mudsliding between ANC, IFP rages on ahead of May elections

The rivalry and hostilities between the IFP and ANC in KwaZulu-Natal reached fever pitch on Friday, with the IFP accusing the governing ANC of being reckless and igniting fires of political intolerance and violence.

At the heart of the schism and renewed bad blood between the political foes is an incident that unfolded on Sunday in the village of KwaCeza outside Ulundi, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The event, held to honour and commemorate the 110th anniversary of one of AmaZulu kings, DiniZulu kaMampande, was turned into a political frenzy between ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma, and AmaZulu traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi.

King of Ballito

Buthelezi, who was at the podium at the time, sought to condemn the alleged utterances by ANC provincial secretary-general, Bheki Mtolo, who is believed to have referred to AmaZulu king as Isilo sase Ballito (King of Ballito).

Ballito is an affluent suburb located under the KwaDukuza local municipality in the north coast of Durban.

Mtolo allegedly made the comments in one of the ANC social media groups, purportedly because of the king’s love for a lavish lifestyle and spending most of his time in Ballito.

While still on the podium, Buthelezi could not conclude his remarks because Duma intercepted him by snatching the microphone.

Duma went on to call to the podium the king’s praise singer, Buzetsheni Mdletshe, who refused, citing the traditional protocol.

Hell broke loose when an angry Amabutho (AmaZulu regiment) heckled and shouted at Duma.

Alleged attack on ANC supporters

It was subsequently alleged that Amabutho, clad in IFP regalia and armed with traditional weapons, vented their anger by attacking ANC supporters.

On Friday, the IFP set the record straight, saying the ANC was not committed to peaceful co-existence between the two parties.

“All we want is to be shown evidence that it was IFP supporters who attacked people,” said party president Velenkosini Hlabisa.

While Mtolo had explained at an ANC media briefing that the party had written to Hlabisa to apologise and to seek an audience with the IFP, Hlabisa would have none of that.

Instead, it will be President Cyril Ramaphosa that the IFP is prepared to speak to.

“After careful consideration yesterday, March 21, I dispatched a letter to the president of the ANC, sharing how best we can deal with the KwaCeza incident, as he also commented about it in public,” said Hlabisa.

“I requested that our parties nominate three members of our respective NECs [national executive committees], and these three members will jointly facilitate the engagement of our PECs [provincial executive committees] in KZN.”

History of intolerance

Ramaphosa was also in attendance when the showdown unfolded in KwaCeza.

KwaZulu-Natal premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, did not escape the wrath of the IFP, which said she contributed to the hostilities between the supporters of the two parties.

The parties have a history of intolerance, which claimed many lives in the province in the early stages of the democratic dispensation.

There are already fears that the tensions, if not closely guarded and mitigated, might lead to political violence ahead of the general elections in May.

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