Road to 2024: Let’s face it, an ANC campaign led by President Cyril Ramaphosa and party secretary Fikile Mbalula will not win KwaZulu-Natal for the ANC, argues Zukile Majova.
They are both outsiders in the province and are seen as being responsible for the downfall of former president Jacob Zuma and another KwaZulu-Natal boy, the disgraced former health minister Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize challenged Ramaphosa at the ANC elective conference last December where he commanded over 40% of the support from the delegates.
The Ramaphosa regime is not loved in KZN — not even by card-carrying members of the ANC.
This weak support for the ruling party was seen in this week’s by-elections where the ANC lost to the IFP in Ward 13 uMhlathuze Local Municipality.
Even without these recent developments, the province has never been a happy hunting ground for the ANC. The ANC has enjoyed a decade of popularity because Zuma was at the helm of the party and the country.
The likeable Zuma charmed Zulu traditionalists with his common touch, and public affection for Zulu traditions, amakhosi and the monarch.
The proud Zulu polygamist swayed millions of Zulu to vote for the ANC and even swelled ANC membership to beyond one million.
For over a decade, Zuma was the most popular figure from KZN and the Zulu nation.
His removal from office along with disgraceful charges of fraud and corruption forced thousands to return to the IFP.
During this transition, with some turning to the Nazareth Baptist Church as a conduit of Zulu identity and traditionalism, Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi was remaking himself as the last line of defence for Zulu culture and tradition.
The death of King Goodwill Zwelithini and later the Regent Queen Mantfombi, the mother of the current king, exposed the ANC leadership as being out of touch with Zulu traditions.
No one from the ANC could lead the nation in mourning. The party instead questioned the then Prince Misuzulu kaZwelithini’s right to the throne and refused to release funds of over R60 million for the upkeep of the king’s palaces.
During this confusion, the late Prince Buthelezi of KwaPhindangene Palace led the nation in mourning and fought bitter struggles to help the crowned prince to ascend the throne.
Zulus rewarded Buthelezi by flocking back to the IFP and helping it snatch dozens of municipalities in northern Zululand. The ANC also lost urban municipalities including Richards Bay and governed eThekwini (Durban) and Umsunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) with coalition partners.
This week, the beatings continued in Ward 13 uMhlathuze Local Municipality where the ANC lost an election to the IFP.
The ward previously controlled by the ANC became vacant when ANC councillor Lindokuhle Ndlove resigned after receiving death threats and surviving a politically motivated hit that left his bakkie riddled with bullets.
In the uMhlathuze by-election on Wednesday, the IFP vote went up from 23% in the 2021 municipal elections to 53%.
A massive IFP campaign in the region led by the party’s constituency chairperson Xolani Ngwezi put both the ANC and EFF on the back foot in the region.
The EFF vote shrank from 10% to 1% while the ANC vote fell from 63% to 46%.
The victory was significant for the IFP because it was the first contest between it and its rivals since the death of party founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
It also secures the IFP coalition’s control of uMhlathuze Local Municipality (Richards Bay).
The IFP has identified uMhlathuze, Ulundi and KwaNongoma areas as the main launchpads for its election campaign ahead of the 2024 national general elections.
In 2019, the ANC won the province by 54.2% of the vote but received a total tally of 41.4% in the 2021 local government elections.
Infighting driven by factions vying for control of the ANC has since weakened the party in KZN, and Zuma was excluded from the party’s top leadership.
President Ramaphosa recently helped Zuma avoid a second stint in prison and will be hoping Zuma would return the favour by headlining the ANC’s election campaign in KZN.
Pictured above: Jacob Zuma and Zweli Mkhize
Image source: Twitter