Kenneth Mokgatlhe18 March 2024 | 12:15

KENNETH MOKGATLHE: Siboniso Duma’s actions a blight on ANC wooing KZN voters

This past weekend's grandstanding by the ANC's Siboniso Duma demonstrated how the party does not acknowledge the importance of winning votes in KwaZulu-Natal, writes Kenneth Mokgatlhe.

KENNETH MOKGATLHE: Siboniso Duma’s actions a blight on ANC wooing KZN voters

King Misuzulu kaZwelithini is welcomed by KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma ahead of the KZN State of the Province Address in Pietermaritzburg on 28 February 2024. Picture: X/@ANCKZN

This past weekend's grandstanding by the African National Congress’s (ANC) Siboniso Duma demonstrated how the party does not seem to acknowledge the importance of winning votes in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). 

AmaZulu Prime Minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi was interrupted by ANC KZN chairperson Siboniso Duma during his address at the 110th commemoration of King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo at KwaCeza, north of the province.

During his address, Buthelezi publicly criticised the ANC in the province for disrespecting AmaZulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, and before he could finish, Duma grabbed the microphone from him, accusing the king’s right-hand man of using the event to score political points.

All parties, including Cyril Ramaphosa, have always shown insurmountable respect and support to the Zulu kingdom because it is a strategic move, especially as elections loom.

On 29 May 2024, some 27,723,820 South Africans will have a constitutional obligation to decide their fate. It is worthwhile to note that the current election battleground is taking place in KZN, the second most populous province in the country.

KZN and Gauteng provinces have approximately 12.28 million eligible voters, which makes up around 44.3% of the total share of votes. This is why main political parties are investing their elections infrastructure in KZN. 

The ANC, which has been dominating the political scene since 1994, understands quite well that losing a pool of votes in KZN will have serious ramifications in their overall results, which several analysts and polls have predicted to go below 50%. 

The ANC in Gauteng is already hanging by a thread, and it seems there is no way in which they can regain the ground, with us having witnessed it losing key metros since 2016.

Notably, the ANC won the province with 50.19% in the 2019 elections, while other political parties grew their electoral support.

What magic then can the ANC perform to regain lost ground? 

This considering the growing disillusionment amongst the people due to unending power cuts, which results in a weaker economy (unemployment). According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), there are more than 2.5 million unemployed people in Gauteng.

People are not safe in the streets, and many are living below the poverty line.

The ANC knows that it has lost touch with urban voters, and is relying on rural provinces such as the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the North West, the Northern Cape to supplement its predicted loss in both Gauteng and KZN in the upcoming elections.

However, opposition parties, especially regional ones, will most likely cut down ANC support in these or some of these provinces. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will likely maintain its support, while the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Freedom Front Plus (FF+) will significantly flex their electoral muscles. 

As they say, the election is a game of numbers, it does not matter so much what the content of your manifesto is grounded on, or how you were able to fill up a stadium. 

Opposition parties including the EFF, DA, and uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK) Party have done their research well by understanding that they do not have to spread their efforts across the entire country, but pay specific attention to KwaZulu-Natal. 

These parties, including the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) also seem to understand quite well that they are not going to have an outright majority, however, share a common interest of putting ANC below 50%.

Why is this important? 

It is a strategic move for smaller parties to be absorbed into state power through a “marriage of convenience” (coalitions) as we have seen in recent years. 

While we are yet to witness members of small parties being included in Cabinet owing to this kind of what is sometimes called an "unholy alliance", we have witnessed how small parties such as the United Democratic Movement (UDM), African Independent Congress (AIC) have been able to deploy their members as mayors in municipalities.

It is also important, especially for many of the “offspring” of the ANC such as EFF, UDM, Congress of the People (COPE), African Congress for Transformation (ACT), and now the MK Party, to prove that their absence in the ANC is in a way responsible for its demise and probable extinction in the coming years, in their lifetime. 

It is political revenge.

Kenneth Mokgatlhe is a political writer and columnist. He is currently studying for his Master of Arts in African Studies, African Sustainable Communities, at Ben Gurion University.