Nquthu loss a blow to Zuma

2017-05-26 14:20
A file image of IFP leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi greeting thousands of supporters at Inkandla.

A file image of IFP leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi greeting thousands of supporters at Inkandla. (Nkosi Sibalukhulu/File)

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The ANC’s loss to the IFP in the Nquthu by-elections has put President Jacob Zuma’s supporters on the back foot.

This as speculation on Thursday emerged that the ANC in KZN was considering a deal that will see Zuma’s backers and those of Cyril Ramaphosa, smoking a peace pipe in the run-up to the party’s elective conference in December.

“Unlike in previous ANC national conferences where KZN was the main player, things are different this time around. There is a lot of resistance within the ANC and this Nquthu loss makes this worse,” an ANC eThekwini regional leader who is a Zuma backer said.

ANC insiders believe that Ramaphosa, who has already been endorsed as presidential candidate by the North West province, Cosatu and SACP, is making good inroads in KZN. This despite a wide acceptance that the ANC in the province is backing the former AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as their presidential candidate.

After weeks of intense campaigning in Nquthu that saw party leaders descend on Nquthu, the IFP yesterday emerged victorious, bagging several wards around the rural town, including wards that historically belonged to the ANC. This was despite the ANC sending five of its top six leaders, including Zuma and Ramaphosa, in a bid to woo Nquthu voters.

The IFP, whose support in the area had been declining in recent elections, increased its support, snatching three wards from the ANC.

As ANC members conceded defeat on Thursday, the loss was seen as another thumbs down by the electorate who have been rejecting the ANC lately.

Zuma opponents within the ANC accused the ruling party leader, who is no stranger to controversy, of having cost the party three metros — Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay — in last year’s local government elections.

Many believed the trend would continue in the 2019 elections if the ANC did not get its house in order.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said the results proved that ANC support in the area had gone down very badly.

“Credit to the IFP who worked tirelessly,” he said.

Another analyst, Bheki Mngomezulu, said the internal ANC fights had led to the ANC performing badly.

“The ANC has been torn apart. Their decline in support and loss in metros such as Tshwane, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, is their own doing. It is not like the opposition are stronger. The ANC has weakened itself,” he said.

Mngomezulu said the anti-Zuma camp would use the Nquthu loss as ammunition against Zuma. “They will argue that this is a sign that the masses are rejecting Zuma,” he said.

The ANC and its coalition partner the NFP, were the biggest losers in the by-elections.

The ANC lost three seats while the NFP lost one seat in comparison to what they attained in last year’s local government elections, before the troubled council was dissolved.

In a swing back to traditional loyalty, the IFP increased its seats from 15 to 19 in the municipality they had lost in 2011, thanks to an ANC/NFP coalition.

Unlike after the August elections when there was no outright winner, the IFP will now not need any coalition partners and will automatically take Umzinyathi District Municipality, which is under administration pending the formation of Nquthu council.

IFP national chairperson Blessed Gwala said the IFP had been confident of success in the by-elections.

“We knew that the people of Nquthu have trust in the IFP and have seen through the maladministration and false promises of the previous administration. We did not campaign using state resources and grand promises of service delivery. When our leadership campaigned in Nquthu, the people saw leaders they could trust.

“They saw leaders of integrity coming from a party with a track record of clean governance. Therefore, they gave the IFP a resounding victory with full control of Nquthu and the Umzinyathi District,” he said.

Gwala said the IFP’s victory was a clear message of what was going to happen in the 2019 elections. “When President Zuma addressed the people of Nquthu he asked them not to vote for a party that will do nothing for them. The people listened and therefore they did not vote for the ANC.

“As the IFP we are committed to serving our people and providing them dignity and an improved way of life. We will restore good governance to the Nquthu Municipality, free its citizens from corruption and poor service delivery,” he said.

The ANC in KZN said it was anticipating a backlash from Zuma’s enemies within the party. “We know that there are those would try to link the elections in Nquthu to national issues. We need to first study the election trends before we can pinpoint the factors that led to our loss,” ANC provincial spokesperson, Mdumiseni Ntuli, said.

The ANC NEC, which has the power to recall Zuma, is having a meeting this weekend where many believe Zuma’s continued reign as president will be evaluated.

ANC member and former Msunduzi speaker Babu Baijoo, conceded the ANC brand was dying “and we are killing it”.

“We are crying. How can we celebrate when the IFP can go from below 50 % to above 50% in just 9 months. They now rule without a coalition. Let’s count the cost of our campaign. Please let’s save our ANC.

“As we connect the dots, the picture that is emerging is serious. The people, whether rural or urban, are connecting the dots as well. They started to punish us at the ballot box since 2011 and they are intensifying the punishment,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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