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Post - 2021-07-21

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The ‘us’ and ‘them’ syndrome must be eliminated

NEWS

JANINE MOODLEY janine.moodley@inl.co.za

AN OPEN dialogue must take place for communities to move forward, political analysts have said amid unrest and racial tension in KwaZulu-Natal. Bheki Mngomezulu said the first step was to educate South Africans, the young and the old alike, about the history of KZN and the history of Indians in South Africa. He felt that enmity between the two groups was partly due to ignorance regarding this aspect. “Indians have a long history in South Africa dating back to 1860. Mahatma Gandhi’s role in South African politics should be preserved. The role played by several Indians in the liberation Struggle and in the trade unions should not be forgotten. Indians, like Zulus, were on the receiving end of British colonialism – both in India and in South Africa. This should demonstrate that the two racial groups are not enemies but brothers and sisters.” He said the 1949 Inanda riots, on the clashes between Indians and Zulus, should not be forgotten. He said the role of Indians in the country’s economy should also be recognised. Mngomezulu said attempts should be made to reconcile the two ethnic groups – both formally and informally. “This must be done through government initiatives and through self-initiated programmes by local Zulu and Indian communities.” He said leaders from both communities should address the masses jointly. “This is so that the ‘us’ and ‘them’ syndrome could be eliminated.” Mngomezulu said President Cyril Ramaphosa also needed to step in. “The president has not assisted us in addressing the situation in the country when, on two occasions, he talked about ethnic mobilisation thereby tacitly reducing the whole incident to a Zulu matter. This was irresponsible.” Sanusha Naidu, also a political analyst, said it would take a concerted effort to establish trust again between the two communities. “Tensions have deepened and manifested. It is going to take a lot, even to build cordiality.” She said the key focus should be on rebuilding society as a whole and building social cohesion. “Once we are able to improve the levels of the social contract, which is respect, empathy and compassion, I guess you would then be able to build communities.” Naidu said a possible solution was for the government to embark on a national project of identity and inclusion. “A national project where everyone is made to feel like they belong in the country. It should be about people and how we see ourselves as South Africans.” Dirk Kotze, a political scientist at Unisa, spoke about King Misuzulu KaZwelithini, the new Zulu king, and his contribution to forging peace. “If a delegation of prominent Indian people go to him to start a dialogue, it will be a powerful message. Community leaders from both sides should also be seen to talk with each other, especially at flash points.”

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