JOHANNESBURG – The African National Congress on Sunday expressed concern at “what appears to be a climate of intimidation steadily encroaching into South Africa’s body politic”.
“In recent months there have been increasing reports of political leaders, activists, and journalists who have come forward with claims that they have been intimidated by certain elements owing to their positions of beliefs. Some claim to even have received threats on their lives,” ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said.
The ANC considered these threats in a very serious light and called on those who had been threatened to report such to law enforcement authorities who should verify the claims and investigate. “Such behaviour is an antitheses to the health and pluralistic society we seek to build where the contestation of ideas thrives.”
Freedom of conscience and association were inalienable rights granted to all under the Constitution. South African history was littered with violence and media suppression. Political intolerance would take South Africa back to a painful past that should not be repeated, Sangoni said.
Threats made against individuals because of their political or ideological beliefs was indicative of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Those who plotted in dark corners and made anonymous threats as well and other forms of intimidation of others should pursue principled and legitimate forms of engagement instead of resorting to cowardly acts.
“The ANC calls on all South Africans to unite behind our common vision of a pluralistic society and jealously guard our hard won freedoms, including freedom of speech and association. We will not allow our country to become a breeding ground for political intolerance, which history has starkly shown can very quickly become a catalyst for anarchy and lawlessness,” Sangoni said.
– African News Agency (ANA)