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