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ANC, MK party lock campaign horns in eThekwini’s tumultuous Ward 101

ANC, MK party lock campaign horns in eThekwini’s tumultuous Ward 101
MK members, Jabulani Mkhize, wooing Ward 101 resident Sbongile Xulu to vote for the party. (Photo: Chris Makhaye)

Supporters of the ANC and the MK party were campaigning in the same ward over the 19-21 April weekend, confirming that KwaZulu-Natal will be a major battleground in the upcoming poll.

Many residents in the eThekwini Municipality’s Ward 101 had visitors from both the ANC and the MK party knocking on their doors this weekend as campaigning for votes gained steam ahead of the elections on 29 May. 

Opinion polls suggest that votes for the ruling ANC will fall below 50% in KwaZulu-Natal for the first time in 30 years. The province is also expected to emerge from the elections with a coalition government.

anc mk party ethekwini ward 101

A motorist passes through sewage spilling on to the streets of Cato Crest, Ward 101, eThekwini. (Photo: Chris Makhaye)

Ward 101 is plagued by a lack of service delivery – with intermittent rubbish collection and water and sewage from burst pipes spilling into the streets. The area has also suffered from high levels of violent crime and, on the political front, it has seen some tumultuous and violent changes in its municipal politics.

The ward includes the Cato Crest informal settlement, the wealthy Manor Gardens and the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College. Luluza Khanyile of the ANC is the ward’s councillor.

Read more in Daily Maverick: eThekwini Ward 101 residents vote for the third time in three years to elect councillor

On Friday morning, a group of women wearing ANC colours was moving from one house to another, urging voters to cast their ballot for the ruling party on 29 May. ANC posters were prominent on most street poles, along with those of the IFP, the EFF, the DA and Action SA.

Nkosikhona Ngalo, an ANC volunteer and ANC Youth League secretary in the area, said the ANC campaign had now moved into top gear.

“We have been conducting door-to-door campaigns and collating information about how people feel about the ANC. We have been trying to resolve some of the immediate challenges facing those people we encounter in our campaign. I think the ANC will continue to do well in this ward, like we did in past elections and by-elections,” Ngalo said.

uMkhonto Wesizwe party

The uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party rose to prominence in December last year, when former President Jacob Zuma endorsed it, saying he could not vote for the “ANC of sell-out [President Cyril] Ramaphosa”. 

MK volunteers dressed in party regalia were also out in Ward 101 on Friday, going door to door, canvassing for the party.

Thami Mkhize and four other MK members said they were former ANC volunteers and supporters who had changed their colours soon after Zuma announced the formation of the new party.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

“Many people are heeding our messages because they are concerned about lack of land and housing; they are concerned about crime and they are worried about a number of other issues that the MK party is addressing directly,” Mkhize said.

Sizakele Ndlovu (42), who is unemployed and lives on the same street as the Cato Crest community hall and two schools, said many political parties had been coming to her home, urging her and her neighbours to vote for them.

“At this point, I don’t know who I am going to vote for. But I wish we were getting this attention all the time. All these parties come as if they care for us; once the election is over they forget that we exist,” she said.

Abahlali BaseMjondolo

Ward 101 is also home of the Abahlali BaseMjondolo’s eKhenana Commune and where the shack dwellers’ movement has lost four activists in the past three years alone. Thapelo Mohapi, the organisation’s spokesman, said the organisation had often borne the brunt of political upheavals in the area.

abahlali ethekwini

Abahlali BaseMjondolo’s Thapelo Mohapi discusses the dangers its members face in the notorious eThekwini Ward 101 (Photo: Chris Makhaye)

“Our people are living in fear in eKhenana because there are people who want to remove them and build rental properties. Some of our activists were shot and killed in broad daylight, some in front of their children, because they stood their ground. This area is very dangerous.” 

On a municipal level (voters are not voting for ward councillors in May), the ward has seen violent disruptions since the previous municipal polls.  

Murder charges

Last week the former ward councillor, 46-year-old Mzimuni “Mzi” Ngiba, appeared in the Durban High Court charged with murdering his predecessor. All in all, the ward has had to change councillors three times in less than three years.

Ngiba is facing two charges of murder and a count of attempted murder alongside three alleged hitmen, Nkosinathi Ngcobo, Sandile Mzizi and Sifiso Mlondo. Their arrest follows the death in October 2021, days before the November 2021 local government elections, of then Ward 101 councillor Siyabonga Mkhize while he was campaigning for re-election. Mkhize’s bakkie came under fire from automatic weapons, killing Mkhize and ANC member Mzukisi Nyanga and injuring Mkhize’s bodyguard.

In the by-election that followed in March 2022, Ngiba was fielded as the  ANC candidate and won the ward convincingly. He served only three months as ward councillor before he was arrested when his three co-accused implicated him in the murder of Mkhize. He has since been in custody. The eThekwini Municipality stopped his salary in September 2023. A by-election was held in December when Luluza Khanyile was elected as councillor.

Ngiba’s case was postponed to 13 June in the Durban High Court. DM


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