2021 Local Elections


‘We will not fail them’: IFP celebrates after wresting power from ANC in KZN’s Jozini

‘We will not fail them’: IFP celebrates after wresting power from ANC in KZN’s Jozini
IFP members celebrate the party's local government election victory in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal on 4 November 2021. (Photo: Supplied)

Jozini Local Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal swung from the ANC to the IFP in these elections. Residents, still reeling from July’s looting and violence, hope the new administration will provide basic services to ease joblessness, water deprivation and lack of housing and safe spaces.

IFP supporters began celebrating victory in Jozini Local Municipality in the north of KwaZulu-Natal when its supporters, donning party colours, took to the streets, while those with cars drove up and down the small town of Jozini.

This municipality is among those in which the IFP swept the ANC aside.

In the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, not only did the IFP take Jozini by a landslide (19 seats to the ANC’s four), it also took 12 of uMhlabuyalingana’s 20 seats, and all 14 seats in the Big Five Municipality.

Jozini and the other municipalities in the uMkhanyakude district were under IFP control before the 2011 local government elections, until the formation of the National Freedom Party (NFP) by former IFP chairperson Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi.

Daily Maverick visited the area in the weeks before the elections, to report on the build-up. See our Ground Level report:

ANC and IFP mudslinging keeps waterless Jozini residents parched in run-up to polling day

The ANC took the municipality in 2011, but in the 2016 elections, the IFP mounted a strong comeback.

(Note: Council seats in the table here are for 2016)

The party trailed the ANC by only 2% of the vote and managed to convince the DA and the EFF, which had won one seat each, to form a coalition government. In 2021 the IFP won by a landslide majority. 

Naye Mathe, the IFP’s regional chairperson and its candidate in Jozini’s Ward 6, was ecstatic that he won the ward from his ANC opponent and that his party had won in the region.

“We campaigned and were strong and it was clear from the reception from the communities that the people were yearning for the IFP’s full control not only in Jozini, but also throughout uMkhanyakude district. We would like to thank all the voters who put their trust in us as the IFP. We will not fail them,” he said.

He said that now that the IFP will also control the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, its first priority will be to source water from the Jozini Dam and supply all the district’s communities and municipalities.

“This victory means a big responsibility has been placed on our shoulders,” Mathe added.

Smanga Dlamini, a 22-year-old domestic worker who lives in Jozini’s Ward 17, which was also won by the IFP, said she did not vote because she had not registered in time. Nevertheless, she hoped the incoming administration would be able to provide water, build houses and create jobs.

“I finished matric more than three years ago, but because of lack of jobs I was forced to take domestic work. It would be nice if the municipality can give us learnership so that we can earn money and help our families,” she said.

Jozini town hawkers said they hope the new administration would be able to provide safe and secure areas in which they can continue business in rainy and hot weather.

IFP members took to the streets on 4 November 2021 after the party’s local election win in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo: Supplied)

Attempts to get a comment from the ANC Far North region were unsuccessful. Deputy regional secretary Khonzani Mthembu declined to comment, referring questions to regional secretary Thobelani Ngcaphalala, whose number went to voicemail.

In the uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality, the ANC won 18 seats, the IFP 15 and the EFF two, while the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the local Abahlali BaseMkhanyakude Movement (ABMM) came away with one each.

Local ANC activists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they are “very disappointed” in how the ANC performed in these elections.

“But we saw this coming. The ANC has been ignoring the cries of the people on the ground. They have been neglecting delivering services to the people. Finally, the party imposed unpopular candidates on communities. Communities nominated independent candidates and that also split the ANC votes. That’s how the IFP took over most of the wards,” said one.

UMhlabuyalingana is one of 21 hung municipalities in KZN, where either the IFP or the ANC could lead coalitions after negotiating with smaller parties. However, on Wednesday morning municipal workers said they witnessed IFP councillor Mpiyakhe Mhlongo removing the photos of former mayor Nkululeko Mthethwa and other executive committee members at the uMhlabuyalingana Municipality offices in Manguzi.

Despite huge losses, the ANC was able to retain some seats.

Lucky Tembe was re-elected Ward 4 councillor. “It is wrong for Mhlongo to start taking down the photos when coalition talks are still under way at national provincial and regional levels… anything could still happen,” he said.

The Buthelezi effect

Daily Maverick analyst Wayne Sussman said the IFP’s fortunes were greatly enhanced by its use of the stature and appeal of its founder and emeritus Mangosuthu Buthelezi to garner votes, especially in rural KZN.

Jubilant IFP members celebrate the party’s municipal elections triumph in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal on 4 November 2021. (Photo: Supplied)

“The ground was fertile there (in Zululand, Umkhanyakude and other rural KZN areas) for the IFP to do very well there and profit from the ANC’s infighting (and) the fact that Zulu leaders like (former president) Zuma and (former health minister Zweli) Mkhize are out of the public spotlight. Many people see Zulu leaders not being part of the ANC. Many ANC activists were not happy with the way Zuma and Mkhize, leaders they related to, were sidelined,” he said.

“The IFP, on the other hand, was able to use Buthelezi well. In this election Buthelezi was like Mandela was during the 2009 elections – not on the elections ballot but still hugely influential among the voters.” DM


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