By-election victories in KZN a foretaste of May 8, says ANC

A voter casts his ballot.
A voter casts his ballot.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has retained both wards in two crucial by-elections in the province in what the party has described as a "foretaste of what is to come" on May 8.

The ANC clinched the Okhahlamba by-election on Wednesday despite IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi's optimism that his party would win the ward in what is considered his stronghold. Ward 4 in Okhahlamba was won by the ANC's Manqoba Herbert Hlatshwayo with 52% out of a voter turnout of 60%.

Hlatshwayo was up against the IFP's Mkhuzeni Hlongwane, NFP's Fanuel Mthembu and new kid on the block African Transformation Movement's (ATM's) Nkosinathi Mhlanga. The ward had become vacant due to the death of an ANC councillor.

Buthelezi, who addressed the IFP's Siyanqoba rally in Bergville in the KZN Midlands last weekend ahead of the by-election, had been optimistic his party would win the ward and take back the Okhahlamba municipality.

The ANC also retained ward 21 in Abaqulusi in northern KZN, which was left vacant after the resignation of its councillor. The municipality was placed under administration by the KZN department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

The ruling party's Nkosinathi Clement Mkhwanazi won the ward with 44.77% of the votes. Voter turnout was 55.95%. He contested the ward with the IFP's Eric Ngidi, the NFP's Thabile Mavimbela and the EFF's Keneilwe Nkadimeng.

In a statement on Thursday, the ANC in KZN said its victory in Abaqulusi put it in pole position to control the municipality as it now occupied 22 council seats, which was equal to those occupied by the IFP, EFF and DA combined.

"It is clear that the people of Abaqulusi are rejecting the IFP-led unholy alliance which has brought the municipality to its knees," said ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli.

The beleaguered Abaqulusi municipality, which owes power utility Eskom nearly R50m, was recently placed under administration by KZN co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube following allegations of mismanagement and nepotism.

After its wins in both Okhahlamba and Abaqulusi, the ANC has now set its sights on the IFP-controlled Zululand district municipality which it believes might fall into its hands for the first time.

The party has also been buoyed by its recent victory in Abaqulusi where it snatched ward 10 from its rivals the IFP as well as winning outright control of the former IFP-controlled Endumeni municipality in Dundee through a hotly contested by-election.

"The overwhelming support received by the ANC attests to the confidence of the people of KwaZulu-Natal in the ANC's manifesto, which is a practical, realistic plan of action to change the lives of people for the better," said Ntuli.

He said both wins were an indication that the ANC would win the May 8 general elections.

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