Analysis: Zuma’s MK party faces uphill battle in May elections

As South Africa gears up for the upcoming general elections in May, the political landscape is undergoing significant shifts, with former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party emerging as a notable player.

However, analysts remain sceptical about the newly formed party’s potential to become a strong contender on the national stage.

Political analyst Matlala Setlhalogile has cast doubt on the MK party’s ability to make significant inroads beyond its stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal.

While acknowledging the possibility of notable electoral success in the province, Setlhalogile cautioned against overstating the party’s national prospects.

With just two months remaining until the national and provincial elections, the political landscape remains fluid, he said.

MK party could outperform the EFF

“While the MK is likely to have notable electoral success in KZN, potentially even a double-digit percentage outcome, they are by no means a strong contender in the upcoming general elections,” Setlhalogile said.

“In fact, the MK is unlikely to make any significant inroads outside KZN. With that said, there’s two months to go before elections; a lot could change that might impact the success of various parties.”

A recent poll by the Brenthurst Foundation suggests that the MK party could secure 13% of the national vote, potentially outperforming the EFF, which is currently polling at 10%.

However, Setlhalogile raised concerns about the methodology of the poll, questioning its credibility. He noted that it remains the only survey to include the MK party nationally.

The survey also indicates a drop in support for the ANC at the national level, with its support falling to 39%.

Tight race in crucial provinces

Meanwhile, the DA is projected to increase its share of the vote to 27%.

The survey found a tight race in crucial provinces like Gauteng, where the ANC and opposition parties compete for dominance, with the Multiparty Charter leading at 38%, the ANC coming in second at 34%, and the DA coming in third at 32%.

It is predicted that the MK party will get 6% of the vote and the EFF will receive 11%.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the MK party has shown promise, polling at 25%, while the ANC sits at 20%. The Inkatha Freedom Party and DA are tied at 19%, with the EFF trailing at 14%.

The emergence of the MK party signals a shift in South Africa’s political landscape, with Zuma’s disillusionment with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration leading him to form a new political entity.

Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, and former ANC MP Des van Rooyen are among the notable figures on the MK party list of candidates for parliament.

Manifestation of Zuma’s politics

Political analyst Ongama Mtimka views the MK party as a manifestation of Zuma’s politics, attracting support primarily based on opposition to Ramaphosa’s ANC.

Mtimka sees the MK party as part of the broader realignment of forces outside the ANC, particularly within the Radical Economic Transformation coalition.

“The MK party represents the politics of former president Jacob Zuma and is able to attract some support based purely on his politics and the stance that he has against the current ANC led by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” Mtimka said.

“So, for many people, what its own agenda is, as far as policies and manifestos are concerned, is secondary to the politics of forming a potentially effective opposition to President Ramaphosa’s ANC.”

As the election campaigns unfold, the MK party faces an uphill battle to establish itself as a credible alternative to the ANC and other opposition parties on the national stage.

While its performance in KwaZulu-Natal shows promise, its ability to translate regional support into national success remains uncertain.

With the political landscape in flux, the outcome of the elections will ultimately determine the trajectory of Zuma’s party and its impact on South Africa’s political future.

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