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Zuma’s MK Party takes votes from ANC, EFF in Mpumalanga debut on back of strong KZN showing

Zuma’s MK Party takes votes from ANC, EFF in Mpumalanga debut on back of strong KZN showing
ANC supporters during an election rally at eMbalenhle Stadium. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Herman Verwey)

The ANC retained Ward 4 in eMbalenhle near Secunda in the Govan Mbeki municipality. Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe party took votes away from the ANC and the EFF to finish in second place in its Mpumalanga debut.

Ward 4 (eMbalenhle) in Govan Mbeki in Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga: ANC 51% (56% PR) MK 28% EFF 18% (26% PR) IFP 3% (1% PR) SKCP <1% (1% PR) TRUTH 0

The setting: eMbalenhle, which is west of the town of Secunda, sits on the R546 road which links Kinross with Charl Cilliers. Zulu is the most widely spoken language. Govan Mbeki also includes Bethal and Leandra. This part of Mpumalanga is also known as the Highveld Ridge. The municipality is part of the Gert Sibande district. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC had a tough challenge from an independent candidate on the ward ballot, with the party getting 44% while the independent won just under one-third of the vote. The EFF came third with 18%. On the proportional representation (PR) ballot, the ANC beat the EFF by 30%. The DA was third on the PR ballot with 7%. 

The ANC lost its outright majority in Govan Mbeki, shedding 10 seats as it declined from 36 to 26 in the 63-seat council. The DA grew from 15 to 17. The EFF consolidated its position as the third-largest party in the municipality by growing from nine seats to 13. The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) was fourth with a three-seat haul. The Azania Resident Party (ARP) won two seats while the IFP and the African Transformation Movement (ATM) claimed one each.

The ANC made an agreement with the EFF to ensure it continued to govern the municipality.


ANC supporters during an election rally at eMbalenhle Stadium. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Herman Verwey)

The by-election: Simphiwe Sindelo, the ward councillor, was shot dead alongside FA Nogwanya, a ward committee member, in early December. In 2022 he survived an attempt on his life when five gunmen shot at his car and his home. No one has been arrested for the murder. 

The ANC and EFF were joined on the ballot by Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party, which was making its Mpumalanga debut, the IFP, the local the Singukukhanya Kwezwe Christian Party (SKCP) and the Truth and Solidarity Movement (TRUTH). The independent candidate who won 32% of the vote in 2021 did not contest the by-election, hence the use of the previous PR percentage as the mode of comparison rather than the ward ballot. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Zuma’s MK party snatches votes from ANC, IFP in fierce Zululand contest as it gives big parties another huge fright

The ANC beat the MK Party by 244 votes in an election where both the ruling party and the EFF lost some ground. MK beat the EFF by 105 votes. At Tholukwazi Primary School the ANC lost a little ground as its vote share went from 57% to 53%. MK won a third of the vote in this district, while the EFF declined from 25% to 10%. At eMbalenhle Primary School the ANC’s vote went from 55% to 48%. EFF finished second here with a small improvement from 27% to 29%. MK was third in the district with a credible 22%.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

This result suggests that MK can also, at the very least, compete in provinces beyond KwaZulu-Natal where Zulu is widely spoken. This is a very encouraging result for the new party. It will also focus strongly on other parts of Mpumalanga and Gauteng since it will believe it can make strong inroads there. 

Mehmet Vefa Dag’s TRUTH had a poor Mpumalanga debut. Its candidate, Sabelo Nkosi, did not even vote for himself as the party received zero votes. 

Poll: 42% (48% PR)

Next by-elections

The next round of by-elections will be on 13 March when the ANC will defend three marginal seats in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, and a safe seat in uMshwati (Wartburg area), as well as a competitive seat in Emfuleni (Vereeniging) in Gauteng, and a safe seat in Moretele (Makapanstad). 

The MK Party will not be on the ballot in the next round. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rae Earl says:

    The most corrupt president this country ever had is Jacob Zuma. He accepted millions in bribes and sold the country to a family from India. They in turn stole billions. Zuma appointed his friend Tom Moyane to head SARS and millions more disappeared. To this day the desperately poor in SA have to sit and watch Zuma get a massive pension and perks while they starve. And they vote for him. Unbelievable.

    • A Voice says:

      Unbelievable indeed!
      One has got to wonder if it is the politicians who are to blame for the destruction of our South Africa over the last thirty years, or the voter?

      • paul Volker says:

        The voters are the problem. There is an incorrect narrative that the opposition parties have nothing compelling to offer voters. That’s nonsense, just look at Cape Town and the WC. Jesus Christ could run against the ANC, and he’d lose. Voters must wake up or accept their miserable lives.

  • John P says:

    It seems Africa is not ready for Democracy. A charismatic “king” receives significant support despite all his known flaws and criminal tendencies, his obvious narcissism, serial lying and total distain for his followers. Oh wait! It is not just Africa, look at Trump, Putin, Boris and more.

  • Johan Buys says:

    former prisoner zuma is playing this game very very well.

    Take EFF votes along with couple of RET ANC discontents.

    In June, negotiate cabinet seats for miscreants that would never have featured inside ANC structure.

    Hats off : Fraser is not stupid.

  • Jabu Mhlanga says:

    Voters going around in circles, voting for anything that comes their way. They’re yet to be played by so called politicians. Its a distant mirage.

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