[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 01:30:19 -0800 (PST)
From: Rich Winkel <rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.990202012218.7948F-100000@igc.apc.org>
Precedence: bulk
Sender: owner-brc-news@igc.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 political killings.

"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 violence.

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 editorial.

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)


[c] 1999, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
All rights reserved

May not be reproduced, reprinted or posted to any system or service outside of the APC networks, without specific permission from IPS. This limitation includes distribution via Usenet News, bulletin board systems, mailing lists, print media and broadcast. For information about cross- posting, send a message to <wdesk@ips.org>. For information about print or broadcast reproduction please contact the IPS coordinator at <online@ips.org>.

[DISCLAIMER: The words expressed on BRC-NEWS, unless explicitly stated as being an official BRC organizational position, are solely those of the author and/or originating organization.]

BRC-NEWS: Black Radical Congress - International News/Alerts/Announcements

Subscribe: Email "subscribe brc-news" to <majordomo@igc.org>

[World History Archives]    [Gateway to World History]    [Images from World History]    [Hartford Web Publishing]