[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 21:01:54 -0200
Message-Id: <1VJZ8c4w164w@wn.apc.org>
Originator: anclist@wn.apc.org
Sender: anclist@wn.apc.org
Precedence: bulk
From: ancdip@wn.apc.org (tim jenkin)
To: Multiple recipients of list <anclist@wn.apc.org>
Subject: Mayibuye July 1995

Violence an Obstacle to Effective Organisation in Natal

Mayibuye, Journal of the African National Congress
Vol. 6, no. 3 July 1995

While all ANC provinces have been experiencing organisational problems, the violence in KwaZulu/Natal has proved an extra burden for the ANC there. Mziwakhe Hlangani examines organisation in this war-ravaged province.

Violence is the critical and destructive problem for organisation in KwaZulu/Natal. Because of the fratricidal feuding the ANC has not been able to achieved key objectives - free political activity; peoples' fundamental right to vote; and the reconstruction and development of the province. However, the ANC leadership is confident that problems related to the fighting will soon be a thing of the past because of the national governments decisive action to end the violence.

Although violence was widespread throughout the country before last year's election, it assumed a particularly vicious form in KwaZulu/Natal. Founded on a strategy by the former regime to intimidate ANC activists and obliterate democratic organisation, and fuelled by the struggle for power of Inkatha, the violence has claimed the lives of over 20,000 people since 1984.

ANC provincial chairperson Jacob Zuma says violence found fertile ground in Kwazulu/Natal, given its history of homeland politics and the use by the apartheid government of the traditional amakhosi system. The approach of the ANC to tackling the violence has not always been uniform: "Because of the brutal killings of thousands of innocent people, there have been differences among the ANC alliance leadership in terms of devising strategies to counter violence."

While the ANC enjoyed substantial support in the province, the level of intimidation has increased. "When we talk of intimidation here we mean the actual killing of our supporters," Zuma says.

"There are areas where we decided that setting up ANC branches would be counter- productive. It was obvious people would be killed in their numbers. Now the effects have manifested in many ways and culminated in vast problems for the ANC during elections when other parties campaigned freely in the province. One example is when an ANC branch was formed in Empangeni in the Northern region - physical attacks on ANC supporters by the Inkatha Freedom Party ensued," he says.

As a result the ANC leadership is still reluctant to hold ANC meetings in places like Eshowe and surrounding areas in Northern Natal, "where IFP supporters had embarked on a trail of violent attacks against our members". Communities are wary of attending rallies in such areas because they know they fear that more people will die.

"It is not just that IFP supporters on the ground feel like killing every ANC member they come across, but it's a kind of violence that has found viable ground because of illiteracy, poverty and high unemployment. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

"In many instances people are even scared to be seen greeting ANC leaders or holding their hands because they fear they would be killed. That denotes the unacceptable high level of intimidation occurring in the area. Without violence the ANC Kwazulu/Natal province would be the strongest and the largest organisation," Zuma says.

He believes that there is no reason why the ANC-led government should be unable to stop the violence in the province: "It is the duty of the government to deploy its forces into the province and stop it. The violence has fed perceptions that if the province did not normalise the situation there will be violence in the whole country."

Despite this the ANC continues, given its history and tradition, to be a leading voice for the vast majority. It is the only organisation that fought tirelessly for the democratic system of governance and no one can take away that heritage, he says.

The movement is the only one with the policies that can give answers to the misery and difficulties of the people, he says. This is the hope of everybody, even people who have allegiances to other organisations. It has a leadership and membership at all levels that is committed to implementing its principles.

Zuma says the absorption of experienced leadership into parliament, the provincial legislature and local government structures is not the major issue for the province. Violence has been the greatest single factor which has affected the development of ANC cadres. Leadership structures from branch to provincial level has had to deal with issues pertaining to violence more than anything else.

"The reconstruction and development that we are only now trying to deliver could have been far by now. The economic growth and investor confidence that we are struggling to get it going could have excelled if the violence had stopped long time ago," he says.

Zuma says there is good cooperation between ANC representatives in the legislature and the organisation - the democratic movement is not separate in the province. An arrangement has been made for an extended caucus which includes officials of the ANC, the Youth League, Women's League, Cosatu and the SACP outside parliament. This improves the capacity of the leadership for communicating with the grassroots. The entire alliance leadership must know of all actions taken by the ANC in the legislature.

Although, the ANC within the provincial legislature is not a governing body, it is working very well with other parties in the legislature. If it was not for the ANC contributions and efforts to make the province governable, there could have been a lot of difficulties in running the affairs of the province. The ANC is guided by the principle that if the province was not governable the blame would be put on the ANC-led national government. Therefore the ANC contributes a great deal in governing the province and ANC MECs are working very hard, believing that the people who voted for the ANC are themselves the people who must benefit.

On ANC membership reported to be low, Zuma says this is a general scenario nationally, since after elections the ANC was caught up with various issues which needed the movement to adjust to new situations. This has led to the general tendency of not paying attention to new membership.

However, a process had begun to set up sub-regions, where new membership and general members were re-checked. A new approach has been embarked upon to redress the issue of new membership campaign.

"We are looking forward to establishing branches throughout the province to ensure that plans and strategies for implementation of reconstruction and development programmes are discussed at the grassroots levels. We want to ensure that the RDP is people driven, and that our people are empowered in terms of getting clarity and help in planning RDP projects. From the ANC point of view it is a critical point of local government, where more clarity on RDP would be possible.

On local government elections the efforts of the ANC in the province has been satisfactory in getting people to register. Still the lingering question is what will happen in places where there are 'no-go' areas.

ANC Kwazulu/Natal secretary Senzo Mchunu says there are 10 regional offices and 460 branches in the province, which he describes as a healthy sign for vibrancy in the province. These are located only in areas where there is not much violence. At a recent strategy meeting it was decided that problems around fighting in the province should be separated from the general problems in the area and that the leadership concentrate on local government elections campaigns.

A monitoring unit to create a climate for political tolerance has been established, while a rural unit will be responsible for campaigning and mobilising ANC support in the rural areas and among traditional leaders. Mchunu says the ANC has been approached by most chiefs in the rural areas who asked the organisation in the province to pressurise the national government to take over payment of their salaries from the KwaZulu-Natal province.

ANC MP Willie Mchunu says a proper climate for elections must be created by disarming people in Kwazulu/Natal and creating effective peace structures. Violence, intimidation and interference with the electoral process must be stamped out: "If anybody tries to interfere with the constitutional right of others to vote, they must be locked up," he says.

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