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More Opinion and Analysis

The big shrink of the IFP

2014-04-30 10:03
Since 1994, no party has dominated another like the ANC has the IFP.

Because we focus so much on the African National Congress versus the Democratic Alliance we tend to overlook the greatest political victory of any party over another in South Africa.

It is not the DA’s growth, nor Cope’s arrival in 2009. In fact, other than the DA winning the Western Cape in 2009, there is little else that has shaken electoral dynamics as much as the complete electoral destruction wrought upon the Inkatha Freedom Party by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal.  

Cast your minds back to 1994, when the ANC only won seven provinces. The National Party won the Western Cape and the IFP won KZN. With 56% of the vote, it bested the ANC by 20 percentage points.

The IFP then held the province in 1999, although the growth of the ANC in that cycle was significant, catching up all but two and a half points from where it lagged five years prior.

In 2004 the pendulum swung hard, and the ANC finished 10 points ahead of the IFP, although the IFP retained its dominant foothold in its home base of northern KZN. We’ve broken it down by municipal district so you can get a clearer geographical view.

But the 2009 general election was the one where the IFP really was hammered: the ANC finished forty points ahead: 62.95% to 22.4%.

In the map below green represents ANC growth, with darker green indicating more growth. It’s not pretty if you have love for the IFP. In the only municipality where opposition parties grew – indicated by the purple district in the southwestern tip – Greater Kokstad, the IFP fell from a paltry 2.78% to 1.03% (which is not unexpected – the IFP is less competitive in the very southern parts of the province).

You read that correctly. In every single municipal region of KwaZulu-Natal, IFP support fell and (in all but one) ANC support grew. Some of the boundary lines moved around, but the move toward the ANC is clear. Although the IFP retained traditional strongholds like Nongoma and Ulundi, its support fell from the mid-90%s to mid-80%s. It haemorrhaged in Nkandla (from whence a famous citizen hails), though, from 89.08% in 2004 to 48.14% in 2009 – a drop of over forty percentage points.

In some places it remained dominant but with a significantly reduced share of the vote, like Msinga (82.4% to 60.5%) and Jozini (74.36% to 52.29%). But some 2004 strongholds saw a massive cull: uMlalazi (Eshowe) from 73.61% to 41.02% (while the ANC climbed from 20.55% to nearly 55%); in Maphumulo the IFP lost over half of its vote share from 69.41% to 34.11%.

In places where the IFP was once competitive it was reduced to docility. In Ingwe it fell from 40.93% to 20.01%, in uMhlatuze (Empangeni) from 40% to 23%, in Umzumbe 37% to 20%.

Where it was a minority in 2004, it was crushed in 2009. In Ubuhlebezwe (where you’ll find Ixopo) the ANC turned its 59% majority to an 83% majority, while the IFP fell to less than 13% from 34%. In Impendle it fell from 27.66% to just over 8%.

ANC strength

In places where the ANC was strong, it grew stronger. Where the IFP was strong, the ANC got closer – sometimes by a small bit, but usually by a lot. The IFP held 50% or more of the vote in 27 municipal areas before the 2009 election, but in only nine after it. On the other end of the spectrum it won less than 30% of the vote in only 14 municipal regions in 2004, but tumbled below that point in 30 of them in 2009.

To make things even harder, before the 2011 local elections, former IFP chair, and the party’s premier candidate for KZN, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi stormed out of the party and started her own one, the National Freedom Party. The NFP snagged just over 2.5% of the national vote count, 11% of the KZN vote count, a plurality of seats in Nongoma, began to co-govern the Zululand District Municipality with the ANC, and took eDumbe off the IFP’s hands.

The going was tough in 2009. It is likely to be even worse in 2014, if these charts show a true trend, and new competition is added to the mix.  The ANC has a reason to feel good about its chances in KZN, namely the last three elections where it ate more and more into the votes that were once cast for Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

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Read more on: cope  |  da  |  anc  |  nfp  |  ifp  |  mangosuthu buthelezi  |  zanele kamagwaza-msibi  |  elections 2014

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