Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 01:30:19 -0800 (PST)
From: Rich Winkel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] SOUTH AFRICA: Cloud Of Violence Hangs Over KwaZulu
** ips.english: 401.0 **
** Topic: POLITICS-SOUTH AFRICA: Cloud Of Violence Hangs Over KwaZulu **
** Written 2:41 PM Jan 28, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1999 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.
Cloud Of Violence Hangs Over KwaZulu Natal
By Gumisai Mutume, IPS,
25 January 1999
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 25 (IPS) - The assassination of South Africa's warlord
Sifiso Nkabinde has left a cloud of violence hovering over KwaZulu Natal
province as the country's general election approaches.
Self-confessed militarist Nkabinde (37), secretary-general of the
opposition United Democratic Movement (UDM), was gunned down Saturday in
KwaZulu Natal's midlands town of Richmond. KwaZulu Natal, one of South
Africa's nine provinces is home to nearly two decades of political
violence which has claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people.
In the past few months, the province had experienced relative stability
but the death of Nkabinde could mean an escalation in violence in the
Natal midlands. His death at the hand of machine- gun wielding gunmen was
immediately followed by the mowing down of eleven people at a funeral
outside Richmond in what police say may possibly be a revenge killing.
On Sunday, there was an exchange of gunfire between UDM and African
National Congress (ANC) security aides in the town which is now being
policed by more than 400 soldiers.
The motive of Nkabinde's killing is unknown but there are now fears of a
ripple effect. Elections are due in April when the term of the current
parliament expires and election-time in KwaZulu Natal is synonymous with
"His death creates a very tense situation that makes it difficult to take
part in democratic processes such as voter registration and campaigning,"
says political scientist Dumisani Hlophe of the University of Natal.
"There could be more conflict and it is important that political leaders
urge their supporters to respect the rule of law."
"While the conflict may be limited to that part of Natal, the nature and
extent of the violence could be worrying," he says.
As a result of the crisis, president Nelson Mandela has called off his
official visit to Uganda. Presidential spokesman Parks Mankahlane says
Mandela is "urging the people to remain calm" and to realise that this
is an attempt "to create a climate of violence."
Nkabinde's life was chequered with violence. In 1997 a South African
Defence Forces report named him -- then Midlands leader of the ANC --
together with Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) members of parliament David
Ntombela and Philip Powell among a group of people running para-military
training camps in the Midlands.
The same year he was expelled from the ANC for being a police informer,
allegedly destabilising the ANC from within and formenting black-on-black
In September 1997 Nkabinde was arrested on 16 charges of murder and two of
inciting to murder in Richmond. But he was acquitted the following year.
"That a man like Nkabinde could rise to such prominence is an indictment
of all the political parties in KwaZulu Natal which have used or winked at
violence to advance their cause," says the daily 'Business Day' in an
While he had been in jail, there was a temporary lull in violence in
Richmond but as soon as he was out, turbulence again returned prompting
Mandela to say there was an individual -- without naming Nkabinde -- who
was formenting violence.
"I am going to use my own methods to bring about peace there," charged
an irate Mandela who then proceeded to send in the army.
The most populous of South Africa's provinces, KwaZulu Natal is also home
to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which controls the provincial
government. Attempts by the ANC to gain a political foothold have seen
open war between the two sides.
The recently formed UDM has added a third dimension to the factional
fighting and some UDM leaders have claimed Nkabinde was killed by the ANC.
Ahead of the 1994 elections a last-minute agreement averted full-scale war
in the province in which the leadership (IFP) continues to garner for
devolution of powers from the ANC's central government. The elections had
to be monitored by 30,000 security agents and a sizeable number may have
to police this year's polls.
During the last provincial council elections held in 1996 about 20 areas
remained 'no-go areas', closed off to rival political parties and at least
14 candidates were killed.
And IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi is one of those fingered by the Truth
and Reconcilliation Commission as playing a role in gross human rights
violations in the province during apartheid rule. He is alleged to have
set up a 200-member unit in the IFP, responsible for atrocities in the
province including murder. He has denied the claims.
The ANC in the province has not been vindicated and during his heyday as a
warlord, Nkabinde was allegedly one of those at the forefront of the
party's war for control.(END/IPS/gm/mn/99)
Origin: Harare/POLITICS-SOUTH AFRICA/
[c] 1999, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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