The effects of that reign of terror on the populace - and on its psyche - have seemingly been underestimated. Judging by the province's proclivity for violence, the wounds and scars of that era still run deep, and have yet to heal.

There's a sense of foreboding about the province again. This time it's not about two political entities fighting for territory. The IFP has shrivelled into a shadow of its former self; the ANC has become a juggernaut controlling a powerful state and its resources.

This time the fight is essentially over state resources within the same party. People are still dying, albeit not at the same rate as before.

Exacerbating the situation is the contradiction of the province being at once powerful and yet so powerless. It boasts the biggest ANC membership and yet has no one from the province sitting in the upper echelons of the party, a far cry from the past when it had president Jacob Zuma and two other members on the ANC top six.

KwaZulu-Natal, the epicentre of the internecine violence that almost scuppered the 1994 settlement, is again proving to be a problem child for the new South Africa. Politicians are tiptoeing around hidden land mines. When the province was being torn apart by the fight for supremacy between the IFP and the United Democratic Front, there was, however, the hidden hand of the state, which was keen to neutralise the UDF (aligned to the then-banned ANC) and advance the fortunes of the IFP, especially its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Thousands died. Buthelezi was promoted at home and abroad as an alternative to the ANC. He was moderate, in favour of the capitalist system and against sanctions, which at the time were an effective international weapon against apartheid South Africa. The ANC, on the other hand, funded from the Soviet Union, was portrayed as a lackey of the Eastern bloc, seen as not waging a genuine liberation struggle as much as doing the bidding of the communists.Its ties w...

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