19 February 2014
Every election since 1994 has been marred by
incidents of violence and voter intimidation which threaten to
scupper free and fair elections. Since our first democratic
elections, the IFP has raised this matter with the Independent
Electoral Commission and we have worked very visibly and very
vocally to secure peaceful elections.
Our campaign against political violence was
born long before 1994. The IFP was founded on the principles of
non-violence and negotiations; the principles propounded by the
founding fathers of the liberation movement.
In the eighties and early nineties, when the
IFP became the main target of the ANC's People's War, the IFP
became the champion of peace in our country. Even as our
members, supporters and leaders were killed, we called for
peace, calm and no retaliation. We learned the art, and the
critical importance, of quelling anger born of grief among our
It was this pursuit of peace – in which
democracy could be birthed – that led the IFP to seek
reconciliation with the ANC. Following Mr Nelson Mandela's
release, our two parties met at the Royal Hotel in Durban and
forged an agreement to end political violence.
One of the key resolutions we reached was a
commitment to stop inflammatory language that stoked the flames
of violence. Another was that Mr Mandela and I would address
joint rallies of our parties' supporters to give the example, as
leaders, that we were seeking reconciliation.
History records the tragic result of that
agreement not being honoured by the ANC. But it was necessary
that we try, and the IFP will keep trying to end the violence.
Our call has always been for peace, and we still walk this path.
As we approach the 2014 elections, incidents
of violence and intimidation are taking their usual place; and
again the IFP is at the centre of the campaign to end the
violence, and ensure free and fair elections.
I have taken note of statements made in the
media by the leader of the NFP, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi, following
the tragic death of an NFP member this weekend. Mrs
kaMagwaza-Msibi has made it known that she feels disrespected by
the leadership of other parties, and she believes that such
disrespect foments political violence.
I am concerned by her use of emotive language,
saying for instance that NFP members are being "mown down". This
is the kind of inflammatory language that Mr Mandela and I
warned against when we sought an end to violence. It stirs up
anger, for the sake of scoring political points. But it is a
I therefore took the decision today to contact
the NFP Leader personally, to request a meeting between the
leadership of our two parties, so that we can discuss ways to
ensure a peaceful election. When Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi left the
IFP, I publically assured her that the door would always be open
to reconciliation. The IFP has kept this door open, despite
violence against us by the NFP.
We urge the NFP not to use the tragic loss of
life to score political points, as this does nothing but
perpetuate the cycle of violence. The SAPS has repeatedly spoken
of unknown motives and unknown suspects, and the element of
criminality has been raised again and again. To call every death
an act of political violence is irresponsible, and inflammatory.
By contacting the Leader of the NFP, the IFP
is seeking opportunity to raise these issues in a neutral space,
out of the eye of the media. We hope, however, to emerge from
that meeting with a Joint Statement committing both our parties
to pursue peaceful campaigning, and free and fair elections.
We realise that when the IFP met with the
leadership of the EFF and arrived at a commitment of this
nature, the NFP labelled it "opportunistic". I therefore wish to
assure Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi that our request for a meeting with
the leadership of the NFP is made for no other motive than to
seek peace between our supporters. That is the duty of
responsible political leaders.
I also wish to assure Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi that
while our parties may differ in values and ideology, I respect
her right to seek a place for the NFP in the political arena.
We therefore hope that our request for a
meeting will receive a favourable response from the NFP.