South African police are looking for three men suspected of killing a Zulu prince and ruling African National Congress (ANC) official.
Relations between the two parties were strained during last year's election
Thulani Zulu was shot dead by the occupants of a red vehicle, which pulled up next to his car, police say.
A police spokesman stressed there was no indication that the shooting was politically motivated and an ANC official urged members to stay calm.
Clashes between the ANC and a Zulu party killed thousands in the 1990s.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mtholephi Mthimkhulu expressed the party's "shock and devastation" at the killing.
"In the early 90s he was instrumental in clandestinely mobilising for the ANC in the area which was then a no-go area for the movement," he said.
Three shots were fired at Prince Zulu, fatally injuring him and wounding his two passengers in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal province, said Police Captain Vusi Mbatha.
Last month, the leader of the mainly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Mangosuthu Buthelezi warned that a culture of impunity in KwaZulu-Natal risked a return to widespread political violence.