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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


WATCH: MK party ‘eating away’ votes due to ethnic identity vote – Zille

Zille stressed that ethic tribalism voting is not good for South Africa’s constitutional democracy.


Democratic Alliance (DA) federal chair Helen Zille says parties like Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) are “eating away” votes from all parties because people are voting on what she called “ethnic identity”.

Zille was speaking at the 2024 elections national results operation centre at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Thursday.

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Former president Jacob Zuma’s MK party is performing strongly in the national and provincial elections, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal where it garnered double the amount of ANC votes in early counting.

Watch Helen Zille speaking about the ethnic identity vote

Ethnic identity vote

Zille to broadcaster eNCA the MK party is an example of an ethnic identity vote.

“They are eating away votes from all parties, least of all the DA. So, this is an ethnic identity vote and it mobilises across a particular ethnic identity group very powerfully. We’ve seen it in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and we’ve seen it to some extent in Gauteng.

“But the truth is, they’ve pulled the ANC below 50% and my prediction is that the ANC will never get above 50% again. In fact, they will continue to decline…”Zille said.

Zille stressed that ethnic tribalism voting is not good for South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

“It means people aren’t voting on principles, values or policies. They’re voting on ‘this is my identity,’ and in a democracy you need people to take values and principles, party manifestos, policy and governance track records seriously.

“No one has a worse governance record than Jacob Zuma in our country. Yet, because he is a very senior Zulu-speaking South African, he attracts a large number of votes. Not on principle, values, or policy. And certainly not on a governance track record. It’s a pure ethnic identity vote and you can see what that means for a democracy,” Zille said.  

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘There’ll still be a MK party if Zuma disappears’ – says SG

Mantashe: Tribal politics

Earlier, African National Congress (ANC) chairperson Gwede Mantashe said he was surprised by the performance of the governing party in Kwa-Zulu-Natal as early numbers showed strong support for the MK party.

Mantashe dismissed the MK party’s support in KZN as tribal politics hinging on Zuma’s recognition in the Zulu community.

“If the impact in KZN reflects something different, it reflects Zulu tribalism. I don’t think we should lock ourselves into Zulu tribalism. It is a backward form of politics. It has its time frame and disappears,” he said.

ALSO READ: MK party’s KZN success shows ‘Zulu tribalism’- Mantashe