The hate con­tin­ues

Although the vi­o­lence of the eight­ies and nineties has ended, there re­mains no love lost be­tween the ANC and the IFP

The Witness - - OPINION - Clive Ndou

WITH the gen­eral polls draw­ing closer, it is a fore­gone con­clu­sion that sup­port­ers of the two po­lit­i­cal foes in the province, the Inkatha Free­dom Party and the ANC, are not likely to cross the great di­vide that has sep­a­rated them for decades.

Un­like other po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the sup­port­ers of which switch al­le­giances at will, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing elec­tions, deepseated an­i­mos­ity be­tween sup­port­ers of the IFP and ANC makes it dif­fi­cult for them to move be­tween the two po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

As a po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist, I be­came aware of the ex­tent of the ri­valry when a few years ago I had the priv­i­lege to be­friend a young woman who, be­cause of her ex­pen­sive taste in fash­ion, can safely be re­ferred to as a skhothane — a young per­son who splashes his or her par­ents’ wealth around.

In my line of work, it is al­most nat­u­ral to take an in­ter­est in such per­son­al­i­ties but what I found strik­ing about this par­tic­u­lar woman was the fact that I had bumped into her at Durban’s no­to­ri­ous KwaMashu hos­tel.

Sport­ing tight jeans and a black T-shirt printed with the photo of Barba- dian singer Ri­hanna and gold-plated teeth caps, she stood out like a sore thumb in a crowd of fe­male hos­tel res­i­dents at­tend­ing a rally that was to be ad­dressed by IFP leader Man­go­suthu Buthelezi.

The hos­tel, pre­dom­i­nantly in­hab­ited by mi­grant work­ers from across KwaZulu-Natal’s ru­ral ar­eas, is con­sid­ered a hos­tile area for young and in­de­pen­dent women like my skhothane friend, whose fash­ion taste and man­ner­isms are gen­er­ally re­sented by the con­ser­va­tive ru­ral folks.

How­ever, what also struck me was the fact that de­spite a gen­er­a­tional and wealth gap, the young woman ap­peared to have a strong affin­ity with the fe­male hos­tel dwellers, who are usu­ally re­ferred to as am­ab­hinca — folk who de­spite mi­grat­ing to ur­ban ar­eas con­tinue to cling to their ru­ral life­styles.

I must con­fess that I was taken aback when I learnt that the young woman, who at the time was a first-year civil en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent at one of Durban’s uni­ver­si­ties, was a mem­ber of the IFP Youth Bri­gade.

At the time, my shal­low un­der­stand­ing of the province’s po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics could not place the young woman in the IFP sta­ble.

To me, an IFP mem­ber had to be some­one with a strong ru­ral back­ground and very lit­tle or no ed­u­ca­tion at all.

In my mind, peo­ple like her, young and ur­bane, were nat­u­rally ANC and not IFP ma­te­rial.

Still taken aback by what to me at the time ap­peared to be a com­plete mis­match, I asked her why she set­tled for the IFP when the ma­jor­ity of her peers were more com­fort­able in the ANC colours of green, black and gold.

The re­sponse was an eye opener: “My par­ents and all my fam­ily mem­bers will turn against me should I join the ANC. Be­fore my par­ents came to Durban in the late eight­ies, we had a home­stead in Im­pen­dle. ANC sup­port­ers burnt it down af­ter ac­cus­ing my fa­ther of be­ing a mem­ber of the IFP. I think my fam­ily will be more for­giv­ing if I were to join any other party ex­cept the ANC.”

Af­ter the young woman had re­lated her story, it oc­curred to me that not even the best re­cruiter in the world would be able to con­vince her to ditch the IFP for the ANC.

It later oc­curred to me that the young woman’s story is shared by thou­sands of other IFP sup­port­ers who were ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly af­fected by the vi­o­lence be­tween sup­port­ers of the two po­lit­i­cal par­ties dur­ing the eight­ies. It is es­ti­mated that the vi­o­lence be­tween the ri­val or­gan­i­sa­tions claimed more than 20 000 lives in the province.

Sim­i­larly, thou­sands of ANC sup­port­ers who were af­fected by the vi­o­lence hate the IFP with a pas­sion.

Ad­dress­ing ANC mem­bers in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg in Novem­ber 2017, for­mer ANC pro­vin­cial chair­per­son and now Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber Senzo Mchunu cap­tured the in­ten­sity of the ha­tred ANC mem­bers still have for the IFP, which con­trolled the province be­tween 1994 and 2004.

“The whole coun­try was lib­er­ated in 1994, ex­cept us here in KwaZulu-Natal. We only tasted free­dom in 2004,” he said, sug­gest­ing there had not been any dif­fer­ence be­tween the IFP-led gov­ern­ment and that of the op­pres­sive Na­tional Party.

In­deed, while the deadly vi­o­lence pit­ting the sup­port­ers of the two or­gan­i­sa­tions ended more than two decades ago, there is still no love lost be­tween the sworn en­e­mies, which since 1994, have been jostling for con­trol of the province.

There is no doubt that on elec­tion day, sched­uled to be some­time next year, the wall sep­a­rat­ing the sup­port­ers of the two par­ties will be firmly in place.

‘My par­ents and all my fam­ily mem­bers will turn against me should I join the ANC.’

• Clive Ndou is the po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor at The

Wit­ness.

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