Friday 2 May 2014

Political Intolerance Ahead of Elections Condemned by Religious, Civil Society Leaders

Election observers from religious and civil society groups have deplored the levels of political intolerance in the Western Cape.

"Political parties are complaining to us that some party leaders are unable to control their followers," said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town in a statement released today.

The statement was released after meetings during the past week between the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC) and political leaders in the region.

Archbishop Makgoba, who chairs the Commission, said: "Speakers are being shouted down, violence is being threatened and meetings are being disrupted.

"A leader who cannot control his or her followers is not worthy of the name. The commission deplores the levels to which political intolerance have risen.

"We all have to live together after this election. We urge leaders, party members and the whole community to show respect and tolerance for other views, and to remember that we are all working towards the common good."

ECCOC has had a number of meetings with party representatives since it decided last week to approach political leaders on how to lower what it said were unprecented tensions during the election campaign. The commission or its representatives have met the African Christian Democratic Party, the African National Congress, Agang South Africa and the Democratic Alliance.

ECCOC comprises civil society leaders drawn from the legal, academic, business, media and health sectors. Many Commissioners represent multi-religious communities. Its task is to assist political parties to uphold the commitment to the Electoral Code of Conduct and also to contest the elections in accordance with the spirit of the code.