KZN parties search for post-elections coalition partners

Up until the emergence of the former head of state Jacob Zuma backed uMkhonto weSizwe party (MKP), the IFP was in pole position to topple the ANC from power in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

But attention has since shifted away, with the focus now on behind-the-scenes horse trading among various political parties on who their preferred political ally would be should no party garner a sufficient majority after the May 29 elections.

 The IFP, EFF, MKP and DA have all shown their potential to command kingship status, but in order for the parties to achieve the ambitious project of ousting the ANC in the top echelons of power, they would have to work together.

The ANC has made it known that it is not engaging any political parties because its aim is to win the province outright.

“We are not talking to anyone. We are clear that we want nothing else but a majority vote in KZN. Even these parties know that they won’t win. The ANC is the only party trusted by the people, and this year’s election will be no different,” said ANC KZN provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo.

At the last elections in 2019, the ANC amassed 54.2% of the provincial vote, making it the majority party. The IFP came in second with just close to 17%, while the DA was dislodged from the opposition benches, recording 13.9%, and the red berets garnered 9.7% of the provincial voter share.

While the IFP has opted to tread carefully not to isolate the EFF, the party has made it clear that it won’t work with its traditional political foe, the ANC.

“We can’t work with parties that are rejected by the people. We won’t allow the ANC to govern through the back door. In working with the EFF, we have not completely shut our door on them. We believe we will win KZN, and if we’re forced to negotiate coalitions, that will be decided after the elections,” stated IFP chairman Thami Ntuli, who has also been endorsed by the party to be the premier candidate ahead of the provincial and national elections.

On the other hand, the DA, which, together with the IFP and other smaller parties, is part of the multiparty charter, has not changed its stance on working with the EFF.

“We do not regret counting out the EFF because they don’t share our values. The DA believes in the sanctity of protecting property rights; the EFF does not believe in such. In a country that would like to grow economically, we believe in the upholding of the rule of law, and the EFF does not believe in that,” DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said in an interview with Sunday World.

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) announced that there are 27.79-million people registered to vote for the upcoming elections, the highest since the dawn of democracy. Over 15-million of the registered voting population are female. The commission also said that out of the total number of registered voters, 11.7-million are between the ages of 18 and 49.

KwaZulu-Natal has recorded the second highest number of people on the voters roll after Gauteng, and it is followed by the Eastern Cape.

Meanwhile, the red berets, who have set themselves a target of garnering at least 1-million votes in KZN, said they are not speaking to any political party in the province for a possible joint winner should there be no outright winner. The party, founded in 2013, will be contesting its third provincial and national elections since its formation.

“We are in it to win, and while other parties have struggled to grow their support, EFF has grown exponentially in this province, mainly. We believe that these numbers will make us win KZN,” pointed out EFF provincial chairman Mongezi Twala.

He also said that if push came to shove, the party would be weary of working with the IFP.

“After the 2021 municipal elections, we gave the IFP everything but they proved to be untrustworthy,” he explained.

Many councils in KZN became hung following the local government elections. This led to the two parties signing partnership agreements in the hung councils, with the EFF being given deputy mayorships.

The arrangement, however, later turned sour, with the red berets pulling out and ordering that their deployees vacate their positions. The move was taken after the IFP refused to comply with the EFF’s demands for the mayorship of the city of uMhlathuze. 

The recent poll by the Brenthurst Foundation showed that the MKP is likely to take 25% of the provincial vote, while the combined allies in the multiparty charter are polled at 39%.

The poll sees the governing ANC dropping by over 20%, making KwaZulu-Natal a political battleground and one of the provinces to watch with keen interest.

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