NFP cramps IFP’s style

2014-05-09 00:00

ZANELE kaMagwaza-Msibi, leader of the National Freedom Party, was last night celebrating her party’s significant inroads into the IFP voter base.

In the last elections the IFP, led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, gained 22% of the provincial vote. Last night they had just over 11% while the NFP had nearly eight percent.

Against predictions that the ANC would steal former IFP voters disillusioned by Buthelezi and the IFP, those voters instead cast their ballots for the NFP.

Neither did the fact the NFP is led by a woman prove a stumbling block in what is perceived to a be male-dominated patriarchal Zulu culture. “That’s the danger of stereotypes,” said Laurence Piper, professor of political studies at the University of the Western Cape and an expert on Zulu nationalism and the IFP.

“The IFP is correctly seen as being identified with Buthelezi and he is regarded as too old and too inefficient by voters who are now much younger,” Piper said. “KaMagwaza-Msibi is half his age and she appeals to younger voters.”

Piper said the NFP has done very well to compete directly against the IFP and prevent disaffected voters opting for the ANC instead.

Piper said that with regard to perceptions of the Zulus being a male-dominated culture that, to some extent, President Jacob Zuma had “capitalised on that” and it had given him a “competitive edge”.

“There is an ethnic dimension to politics,” said Piper. “But what we are seeing here is generational change rather than ethnic politics.”

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