NFP, IFP leaders vote kms apart

2011-05-18 10:03

Ulundi - Political archrivals, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and National Freedom Party (NFP) leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi will be separated by a mere 10km when they cast their votes outside Ulundi on Wednesday morning.

The two leaders are battling it out for the control of sprawling Zululand district municipality.

Buthelezi will vote in his village of Enkonjeni, just less than 10km away from Thokoza in Lundi, where kaMagwaza-Msibi will cast her vote.

Political pundits have predicted that the elections will 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 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 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 Magwaza-Msibi was mayor before her fallout with the IFP.

Addressing supporters in Ulundi on Tuesday evening, 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 queuing 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.