IFP celebrates as it picks up wins in Zuma’s KZN

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IFP’s Blessed Gwala
IFP’s Blessed Gwala

The failure of the National Freedom Party (NFP) to register in time to contest the elections was a blessing for Lucky Khumalo, who became a hero in the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Friday after he successfully wrestled with the ANC for the IFP’s “holiest” spot in Ulundi – Ward 9, the home of his president, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

He took almost 80% of the votes, reducing the ANC’s challenge to only 14%. Former IFP councillor Mandla Kubheka, who stood as an independent, received only 176 votes, or 3%.

Khumalo believes that a combination of loyalty to the IFP and a return of NFP voters who had defied their leadership and voted for Buthelezi’s party won not only the ward, but helped to reclaim the control of Ulundi and the Zululand District Municipality. The IFP lost them to an ANC-NFP coalition in 2011.

“The people who followed the NFP came back home and voted for the IFP because they trust our leadership. The NFP leaders tried to force their members to vote for the ANC, but they chose to return to the IFP instead,” he said.

The recapture of Zululand and the uMzinyathi District Municipality were crucial to the IFP’s consolidation plans and regeneration. This was after the breakaway NFP, led by Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, had split the IFP in half.

This enabled the ANC to co-govern at least 19 local and district municipalities that were previously under the IFP.

The electoral turnaround by the IFP saw the party take control of six councils and 419 seats in the province. The party’s slice of the vote increased to 18.39% provincially, up on 16% in 2011. The councils back under IFP control include Hluhluwe/Somkhele, Mtubatuba, Nongoma and Nquthu, while the party retained Nkandla and Msinga.

Party provincial leader Blessed Gwala told City Press that the improvement in the party’s electoral fortunes was the result of a combination of factors, and not only because of the return of defectors from the NFP.

“We ran a very strong campaign since 2012 to ensure that a number of people who defected were recruited back to the IFP. The failure to govern some municipalities by the NFP-ANC coalition also helped. There was no conference of the NFP at which a resolution was made to support this, so the voters came to us,” he said.

The ANC has won 36 councils, which translates into 995 seats (57.4%), with the DA receiving 185 seats (15.1%). The Economic Freedom Fighters got 3.46%, translating to 59 seats in councils such as eThekwini, Umdoni and Umzimkhulu.

The DA made inroads in uMhlathuze (Richards Bay) as well as in eMadlangeni, Newcastle, Endumeni, Estcourt and Abaqulusi local municipalities, as well as in uThungulu.

The DA made its most significant growth in eThekwini, taking 10 wards away from the ANC and two from the Minority Front.

It even grew in rural areas, where it took wards in several municipalities where it had no presence in the last elections.

DA provincial leader Zwelakhe Mncwango said a decision to focus on the rural areas 12 months before the elections paid off.

The DA won wards in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality, including Mtubatuba and Nongoma, as well as eDumbe, Abaqulusi and Endumeni in the uThungulu District Municipality.

In the eThekwini metro, the ANC increased its number of wards to 76 from 73.

ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said yesterday that the party had continued to grow in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We have been progressing here since 1994 under [former president Thabo] Mbeki’s leadership. Under [President Jacob] Zuma’s leadership, we also grew the ANC in this province,” Zikalala said.

Zikalala said the ANC had received a share of the NFP’s vote and, like other parties, had lost and gained wards. The electoral victory, he said, “belongs to the ANC volunteers”, who gave the party the edge through force of numbers.

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