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2024 ELECTIONS

Early surge by Zuma’s MK party in rural KZN shows potential to lead provincial legislature as ANC falters

Early surge by Zuma’s MK party  in rural KZN shows potential to lead provincial legislature as ANC falters
Jacob Zuma's daughter Duduzile at the IEC Results Operations Centre in Midrand on 30 May 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Although key metropolitan results are still not in, so far Jacob Zuma’s new MK party is a shoo-in to lead the KwaZulu-Natal legislature. While the MK Party was upbeat, other political parties cautioned against making early calls on voting outcomes.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe party is leading in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) so far, ahead of the ANC and IFP

At 2pm MK had 43.51% of the votes in the voting districts counted in KZN – which has the second-largest number of registered voters in this election – ahead of the ANC with 24.65% of the votes in the voting districts counted. 

By 4pm on May 30 only 11.4% of voting districts in KZN had been counted.

The party has won support in the rural parts of KZN, while votes for the urban areas have not been counted yet.

The MK party has managed to get 67% of the vote in Cornubia, northwest of uMhlanga in eThekwini, while the ANC only has 15%. 

At Sihle School in Umzinto, Ugu district, MK has 53% support compared with the ANC’s 24%.

Election expert Terry Tselane believes it’s not premature to say the MK party poses a real threat in KZN.

“You can base this on what you see on the leaderboard. I think as early as now you can begin to see the shape of South African politics. It is likely that the MK party will do very good in KZN, and also the decline of the ANC has been consistent even with the metro councils,” he said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: It’s now time for South Africa to take Zuma’s MK party seriously

Speaking to Daily Maverick, MK secretary-general Sihle Ngubane says the party has temporary structures in place but has not selected a premier candidate yet – it would have to convene an urgent gathering to decide this.

On the MK party’s KZN list Nhlanhla Victor Euclid appears first as a candidate for the legislature. 

“We have a structure in KZN, everything of ours is still interim because we have not gone to conference. Once after this, we will go to conference and have permanent structures. The executive will sit and then decide who is the premier candidate.” 

Ngubane believes that electing the leadership after the elections will not cause infighting. 

“It becomes a problem when a party does not have a leader who is respected. We have a leader who is our father… there is no infighting, we are intact,” he said. 

If the party did not win an outright majority, it would still not be willing to work with the ANC, despite Zuma claiming he wanted to remain a member of the governing party. 

“Any party that focuses on [the] poorest of the poor, we will work with them. We moved out of the ANC because we are sick and tired of their thieving and corruption. It is impossible to start work with them…”

The ANC had identified the province as a red zone, along with Gauteng, because they are both highly contested. 

The party had aspirations to garner just more than two million votes in the province, but at the moment the situation looks bleak. 

MK ‘surprised’ Mantashe

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe acknowledged that the MK party has exceeded his expectations in the province. 

Gwede Mantashe at the IEC Results Operation Centre in Midrand on 30 May 2024.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“The MK party has done well in KZN, they have surprised me, but they are not going to do that in other provinces,” he said. 

The ANC had the highest level of support in the province since the advent of democracy when Zuma was the leader in 2009, securing 62.95% of the vote. 

KZN has traditionally been the stronghold of the IFP, which is likely to be the most affected by the MK party.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, however, was not worried about the results so far: “If you look at the KZN results it tells you that it’s just a drop in the ocean that has been captured and anyone who has been part of the election process knows that KZN results are very slow. So, we are not fundamentally worried about what you see on the screen because we know that results do take a long time to come in.” 

scopa hlengwa

IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa says the MK Party gains were a “drop in the ocean” for what was to come. (Photo: Xasbiso Mkhabela)

In the 2014 general elections the IFP hit a low and was relegated to being the third-largest party in KZN with 10.86%. But it has made a strong comeback since the 2016 municipal elections.

In the 2019 general elections the IFP won back the title of official opposition in KZN when it received 16.34% of the vote.

In the 2021 local elections it maintained an upward ­trajectory by further increasing its support and it has since performed well in a number of by-elections in the province.

DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille is one of the leaders who believe the results coming from the metro will determine who wins KZN. 

Helen Zille at the IEC Results Operation Centre on 30 May 2024.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

“It’s very early days and I do not want to be worried about things in early days. The metros have not come in yet. The metros are where the DA has its major votes. So I keep calm in every circumstance; this is not my first time at the rodeo, as you may know,” she said. 

“MK party is another example of an ethnic identity, a very powerful one. Former president Zuma is the strongest most ebook isiZulu-speaking candidate leading the party in this election. We have seen what the consequences are but, as I say, it is too early to say with any finality yet.” 

The leaderboard of results at the IEC Results Operation Centre on 30 May 2024.(Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini believes it is premature to make conclusions about their standing in KZN. 

“It is too early for us to say what has transpired. Once we are halfway, that is where the traditional strongholds will come in. It is still small voting stations, but the bigger ones have not come through. Those will give us the ultimate determination of the MK party’s strength. But we are monitoring it,” he said. 

In 2014, when the EFF first contested elections, it received 1.85% support, which increased to 9.71% in 2019. DM

This article has been updated post-publication to clarify percentages as they pertain to voting districts counted.

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