South Africa: Intense Competition for Zulu Vote Ahead of General Elections

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
South Africa

The electoral campaign has commenced in South Africa, with general elections scheduled for May 29, 2024. The party emerging victorious in the legislative ballot will see its leader ascend to the presidency. For the first time since 1994, the ANC could potentially lose its absolute majority.

In South Africa, the electoral battleground promises to be fierce, particularly in the KwaZulu-Natal region in the east of the country. This is where many parties have launched their campaigns, including the recent gathering of the Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP), founded by Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Notably, the IFP’s kickoff in Durban, the heart of Zulu territory, attracted significant attention.

Despite the passing of its historic leader last year, the IFP continues to enjoy support from South Africa’s largest ethnic group, the Zulus, who constitute one-fifth of the population. While the party garnered only 3% of the national vote in 2019, it remains the primary opposition in local government. The IFP’s new leader, Velenkosini Hlabisa, aims to wrest control of the region from the ANC and potentially play a role in a national coalition led by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

However, competition for control of KwaZulu-Natal is fierce, as it is the second most populous region after Gauteng, encompassing Johannesburg and Pretoria, making it a significant vote bank. In recent weeks, the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban has hosted appearances by Cyril Ramaphosa, showcasing ANC strength, and Julius Malema, leading the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Additionally, former President Jacob Zuma is counting on his native region to secure votes for his new political entity, uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK), potentially undermining his former party, the ANC.

Furthermore, the Democratic Alliance has reached out to the United States, requesting electoral observers to ensure the integrity of the vote. This move has been labeled “hypocritical” by the South African president, who highlights the presence of regional observers already in the country.

The intense competition for the Zulu vote underscores the significance of ethnic politics in South Africa’s electoral landscape and the potential for shifts in power dynamics within the country’s political arena.

Weafrica24

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