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ANC Faces Setbacks in KwaZulu-Natal Amid IFP Resurgence and Corruption Allegations

Published September 30, 2023
9 months ago

The African National Congress (ANC) is struggling to maintain its grasp in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Amid rising unemployment, corruption -particularly embezzlement of flood relief funds- and an upsurge of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), voters are increasingly distancing themselves from the ruling party.

As per an insightful analysis by Zakhele Ndlovu, a KZN-based expert in politics, the ANC's former leader, Jacob Zuma, and the fallout from his leadership is one of the primary reasons for this shift. Many Zulu-speaking voters, once staunch supporters of the ANC, are returning to the IFP, which saw a decline in its membership during Zuma's reign.

Major electoral losses in the province have exposed ANC's wavering public support. One significant setback occurred during the recent by-election in uMhlathuze Municipality, in which an IFP candidate won over a historically safe ANC ward seat. This is just one among several ANC wards the IFP has claimed since the 2021 local polls.

However, whether the IFP can maintain its momentum after its founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi's passing remains unknown. The possibility of a coalition between the IFP and the Democratic Alliance, and potentially another party, is on the table, suggested Ndlovu. This coalition would aim to overthrow the weakened ANC in KZN.

Interestingly, there appears to be a regional specificity to the ANC's struggles. While KZN has witnessed a marked shift, other provinces demonstrate fluctuating performances. For instance, in Limpopo, an ANC candidate won a ward seat in the Blouberg municipality albeit with a significant decrease in votes from 2021. Meanwhile, in North West, the ANC managed to maintain their hold in the Madibeng municipality.

This regional variability underscores the complex dynamics of South African politics today. As regional concerns take precedence and smaller parties make their mark, sweeping assertions about the ANC's power -or lack thereof- are perhaps premature.

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