The ANC faces a double whammy in KwaZulu-Natal as a resurgent Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the newly-formed MK party, backed by ex-president Jacob Zuma, threaten to give it a bloody nose in the coming general elections.

The province that was once an ANC-stronghold is up for grabs, and the IFP and the MK are leading the charge.

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MK ‘not an issue’

IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli said on Saturday that the province is theirs for the taking after this week’s Newcastle by-elections, where IFP snatched three seats from the ANC.

“It is evident that we are enjoying support in the province, especially because the wards were held by the ANC.

“In eThekwini we took ward 99 from the ANC, in Umuziwabantu Municipality in southern KZN we won ward 11.

“So, if we used by-election results as a barometer, the signs are very positive for IFP,” Ntuli said.

Although the MK party was not on Thursday’s ballot, its popularity in the province was enhanced again when ANC Ward 5 councillor Nontethelelo Khumalo resigned and switched to Zuma’s party on the day.

But Ntuli said the emergence of Zuma’s party is not a concern for his party.

“The MK party is not an issue to us,” he said.

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The IFP is now in control of Newcastle’s Amajuba Municipality. The party has governed Amajuba through a coalition since 2021.

“We haven’t seen a significant impact of that on us as IFP. We are on an upward trajectory and gaining more support.”

IFP is ‘MK light’

Regarding Khumalo’s resignation, ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele accused her of using MK as a “cover”.

Calling the MK party an IFP proxy, Mndebele said Khumalo actually joined the MK party under the guise of IFP.

“Joining MK is a test game, it’s just to fool people. All these people are using the MK party as a scapegoat because in reality, they go and work for IFP.

“The MK party did not contest these by-elections but they set up tables and were supporting the IFP. MK is just a useless cover for the IFP,” he said.

Mndebele added that his party is approaching the electoral court over alleged voting irregularities in Newcastle.

But MK party secretary Thanduxolo Dyodo rubbished Mndebele’s claim that his party works with the IFP.

Dyodo said the MK party opted not to contest the Newcastle by-elections because the focus is on the upcoming general elections.

“Our goal is 29 May to attain a majority. Also, we work and campaign alone as the MK party.

“There are no discussions of working with any other party ahead of the elections,” said Dyodo.

‘Not business as usual’ in KZN

Nelson Mandela University political analyst Dr Bernard Sebake says the IFP is in a favourable position to convince KZN voters ahead of the May 29 elections.

With the ANC’s mismanagement of councils such as the eThekwini metro and the devastation left by the floods, the IFP could make inroads in areas other than its rural support base, said Sebake.

“Because of the ANC’s poor service delivery and the fact the ANC government is unable to assist with the relief budgets to restore KZN infrastructure, the IFP can play that card of restoration to harness support.

“But the MK party is poised to throw the spanner in the works. It is not political business as usual in the province,” said Sebake.

He added that many ANC supporters are still on the fence, and could heap voter support onto Zuma and the MK party and further hurt the weakening ANC.

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