Fierce contest for Zululand municipality

2011-05-18 09:14

Ulundi - People started queuing early in Ulundi voting stations ahead of the start of the third democratic local government elections.

Political pundits have predicted that the elections would be the most fiercely contested in Zululand since the first local government elections in 2000.

Traditionally, areas such as Ulundi and Nongoma have been IFP strongholds.

During the second local government elections in the 2006 the IFP averaged about 90% of the vote in all wards in Ulundi, while the ANC averaged six percent of the vote.

In 2009, the ANC made some gains in Ulundi (14.9% compared to the IFP's 83.6%) and in Nongoma (16.8% compared to the IFP's 81.8%).

The formation of the National Freedom Party (NFP) has brought a new dimension to the elections in Zululand this year.

Claims have been made that the IFP breakaway party commands a lot of support in the Zululand municipality where its leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi was mayor before her fallout with the IFP.

Addressing supporters in Ulundi on Tuesday evening, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi denied that the NFP had stolen his party’s strongholds in Zululand.

"You wouldn’t be here if that was the case," he said.

The Zululand district municipality is not only important to the IFP, but to Buthelezi as a person.

It is where he lives and where the town he built, Ulundi, falls. The district is also important to the ANC and the NFP because they want to prove that it has dismantled IFP strongholds.

The Zululand district municipality consists of five local municipalities: Edumbe, with eight wards; Ophongolo, 14; Abaqulusi, 22; Nongoma, 21; and Ulundi, 24.

Most people interviewed queueing in different voting stations said they wanted to vote because they wanted to see improvements in local government.

"We want to shake them [councillors and parties] so that they can wake up.

"Service delivery is very bad," said Bongani Zulu, at Ulundi’s B south voting station.

It was at the same voting station where a woman was caught stuffing ballot papers into ballot boxes in the 2009 general election. She has since been sentenced and is serving a sentence.

A lot of police officers have been deployed in Zululand to monitor the elections. Areas such Nongoma and Ulundi are regarded as hot spots.

Read more on:    ifp  |  mangosuthu buthelezi  |  elections

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