The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has won the opposition race in hotly contested KwaZulu-Natal yesterday afternoon, with 16.63% of the vote, against the DA’s 13.65%.
The IFP governed the province from the 1994 elections until 2004, when the ANC attracted most votes at 46.98%, with the IFP at 36.82%. That year, the Democratic Alliance (DA) got 8.35%.
The IFP’s share of the votes in the province declined through the years until they slipped to third behind the DA in 2014. They got 11% of the vote while the ANC obtained 65% and the DA 12.76%.
IFP national treasurer and head of elections Narend Singh said the party was pleased with its results, both nationally and in KZN this time.
Singh attributed its gains in the province to the hard work done by the party’s leadership, including its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and IFP KwaZulu-Natal premier candidate Velenkosini Hlabisa.
During its campaigning, the IFP reminded the KZN electorate of the party’s successes from 1994 to 2004.
He added the party had asked voters to compare the levels of service delivery during IFP’s governance to the present, and the levels of corruption seen today, which convinced them to give the party another chance.
The IFP intends to use the support as a springboard to formulate programmes that will ensure it wins more KZN municipalities in the 2021 local government elections and “we will set our sights on 2024 [the next general elections]”, Singh said.
DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango said the number of votes it acquired had increased, which was proof it is “making inroads” in KZN.
Mncwango said the IFP’s revival could be credited to the National Freedom Party’s (NFP) – an IFP breakaway – poor performance. The NFP was formed in 2011 by former IFP national chairperson Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi.
“The IFP is not really growing, it just got back its supporters from the NFP,” Mncwango said.
Politics lecturer at the University of Pretoria, Sithembile Mbete, said the IFP’s growth in KZN was consistent with the trend of the 2016 municipal elections, which saw it win back wards and municipalities it had lost to the ANC.
Mbete said the IFP had re-established itself and its base in the province, taking back people who had voted for the governing party because they supported former president Jacob Zuma, who hails from KZN.
The IFP had also managed to build up its support among young voters, Mbete said, adding she expected the party to continue to grow and strengthen.