Ulundi – A strong early voter turnout set the tone for election day in Ulundi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Wednesday.Most of the voters were elderly.At the Mahlabathini High School, eight people braved the morning cold an hour before the voting station opened. They were upbeat and positive about voting.Taxi owner Thulani Langa said he had voted in every election. He did not share who he would vote for. He said he made the effort to vote early in the morning so he could get to work afterwards.Meanwhile, support for IFP president Mangosothu Buthelezi grew stronger as one travelled closer to his birthplace of Mahlabathini.At the Ekudubekeni High School voting station, residents were open about their support for Buthelezi and his party."There is nothing better than this party. They give us everything we want and they do not ignore us," Sifundo Sibiya, 44, told News24.Sibiya said Ulundi and KwaZulu-Natal had a strong IFP support base. "We all believe in this party. They have not let us down and understand who we are."His friend Sibusiso Mbatha, 49, concurred."I vote for the IFP. It is obvious in this area. He is the one we trust. He knows our people. I have been voting IFP since 1994 and will always do so.”Buthelezi and his wife Irene voted at the Buthelezi Traditional Court. He told reporters he believed the National Freedom Party had a right to join the ANC, but stressed by-elections would reflect the true voter base.The NFP, which was disqualified from contesting the elections after it failed to pay its deposit to the IEC on time, had said it would vote for the ANC. The party was formed in January 2011 after it broke away from the IFP.Buthelezi said the IFP’s final rally before the elections had showed that there was great support for the party."I think that many people are seeing that the IFP is still doing the work it has always promised to do."Buthelezi rejected rumours that he would fire staff at the Zululand District Municipality if the IFP took over. They would only remove the incompetent ones, Buthelezi said, adding that he was committed to his people.