ANC and IFP now courting NFP

2011-05-20 00:00

THERE were clear indications last night that the Inkatha Freedom Party’s popularity among voters has declined in KwaZulu-Natal as the latest local government election results, released by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), indicated that the IFP had lost a sizeable number of the 32 municipalities that were previously under its control.

Out of the 32 municipalities where the counting had been completed, the IFP had only managed to take three, with the new kid on the block, the National Freedom Party (NFP) also securing three municipalities, including eDumbe (Paulpietersburg) and Nongoma.

Since the 1994 elections, which saw the IFP becoming the ruling party in KwaZulu-Natal and being the third biggest party nationally, the party’s popularity has dwindled in such a way that it lost KZN in 2004 and during the 2009 general elections, it was relegated to being the fourth biggest party, having lost more than half of its previous support.

The internal leadership squabbles, which intensified last year and resulted in the establishment of the NFP by its former national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi earlier this year, is proving to be the last nail in the coffin of the IFP’s political wellbeing.

In many municipalities, the NFP will be a king-maker as no party received absolute majority.

Among the municipalities where the ANC won an absolute majority are Amajuba District Municipality — previously under the IFP; Ezinqoleni in Harding; Hibiscus Coast in Port Shepstone; Umdoni in Scottburgh; Impendle; Mooi Mpofana in Mooi River; Mkhambathini in Camperdown; Umngeni in Howick; Richmond; Newcastle; Mandeni; KwaDukuza in Stanger; Greater Kokstad; Vulamehlo in uMkhomazi; Ingwe in Ixopo and uMzimkhulu.

Other municipalities where the ANC won the most seats, but not an outright majority are Okhahlanga (Bergville) where it got 13 seats against the IFP’s 8, the NFP’s six and DA’s one; Imbabazane near Est­court where it got 12 seats against the IFP’s five, the NFP’s seven and DA’s one; Endumeni in Dundee with six, the DA three, IFP two and NFP one; Umvoti in Greytown with 10, seats to the IFP’s nine, NFP’s two and DA’s one.

In Dannhauser the ANC won 11, seats to the IFP six, the NFP’s three, and one each to Azapo and DA.

In eMadlangeni (Utrecht) the ANC has four, the IFP two, the NFP three and the DA one. In the Big 5 False Bay (Hluhluwe) the ANC and IFP got three seats each and the NFP’s one seat will be decisive.

In Hlabisa, which was won by the IFP with eight seats in a 14-seats municipality, there will be a stalemate should the NFP and ANC (each with four seats) decide to form a coalition against the IFP.

In Nkandla, where the IFP got 13 seats in a 27-seat municipality, a coalition between the ANC and the NFP might unseat the IFP.

In Mthonjaneni (Melmoth) the IFP and ANC got five seats each and the NFP’s one seat will also decide the ruler.

In an interview with The Witness last night NFP leader Magwaza-Msibi confirmed that the ANC and the IFP had already approached the NFP requesting coalition governments in the various municipalities. “We have not yet decided whom to work with, as we will be meeting this weekend to decide on that.

“However we will prefer to work with a political party that will focus on development instead of petty squabbles,’’ Magwaza-Msibi said.

In previous interviews when asked on whether she was prepared to work with the IFP, Magwaza-Msibi complained that she had suffered a lot of insults from IFP leaders and future co-operation with the party would present major challenges.

At the time of going to print results from other municipalities were pouring in, including the eThekwini metro which is expected to be retained by the ANC.

Political analyst, Nhlanhla Mtaka was of the view yesterday that the NFP will be a kingmaker in a number of municipalities in KZN.

“It is true that politics is a cruel game. A party which was considered a nonentity has now emerged as a kingmaker,” said Mtaka.

The sleepy rural town of Nongoma was painted orange as hundreds of NFP supporters clad in the NFP orange T-shirts, filled the streets in celebration of news that the party had taken 14 out of 21 wards in the municipality.

Magwaza-Msibi, who addressed an impromptu rally outside the Nongoma municipality offices, said her party’s victory in Nongoma “will ensure that I continue where I started when I was [in the] Zululand District Municipality to help local residents...’’

Inkatha Freedom Party chairman in KwaZulu-Natal, Bonginkosi Buthelezi, has conceded defeat at the local government elections, saying the newly formed NFP had been a major factor in the poll.

Speaking after the results of Amajuba district were released, which showed that the ANC had won, Buthelezi said the party had faced an uphill battle which it failed to win. “Although we knew that the NFP was going to be a factor, we did not know that it would be to this degree,” said Buthelezi.

Buthelezi said the party would hold a council meeting soon in which the results would be discussed.

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