KZN holds key for ANC
AS THE country prepares for the 2019 elections, the ANC has realised that its success is contingent upon uniting KwaZulu-Natal.
The decision by the party’s top brass to hold its list conference and stage its annual January 8 Statement in eThekwini was a calculated move. The ANC wants to use these events to bring unity within the party. It also tacitly admits KZN has a place in the party’s history.
When the ANC was formed in 1912, John Dube was elected in absentia to be its first leader. In 1952, during the Defiance Campaign, iNkosi Albert Luthuli was asked to lead the ANC during turbulent times due to his leadership prowess.
Nelson Mandela was apprehended in Howick. After his release he came to KZN to report to his late leaders about the latest political developments in the country. Mandela also voted in KZN. This was a symbolic gesture showing his respect for ANC leaders like Dube, Seme, Luthuli and others.
The 2016 Local Government Election (LGE), the 2017 ANC elective conference in Nasrec and the unceremonious departure of then President Jacob Zuma – coupled with intra-party squabbles and killings, as well as sour relations within the Tripartite Alliance, has left the party in disarray.
When Cyril Ramaphosa became president of the country, the writing was on the wall that unless drastic measures were taken, the ANC would face an uphill battle in the 2019 elections.
Luckily for the ANC, opposition political parties have had problems of their own.
The DA handled the Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille issues badly. The party also showed disrespect for its leader, Mmusi Maimane, on several occasions. These incidents meant that despite its internal problems, the ANC would have no serious opponent.
However, having learnt a lesson in the 2016 LGE, the ANC could not afford to be complacent.
Ramaphosa frequented KZN to put out the fires and tried to unite an evidently divided province.
The decision by the party to stage its national events in KZN should be understood within this context. KZN has remained the ANC’s biggest province.
Even when Mpumalanga replaced the Eastern Cape, KZN remained at the top in terms of ANC support. Therefore, holding these events in the province was a meticulously thoughtthrough decision.
What is the future of politics in KZN after the 2019 elections? Surely, any answer to this question would be presumptuous. But through a cogent analysis of developments thus far, one can make some informed predictions.
Firstly, the ANC will definitely perform better than it did in the 2016 LGE. But this does not mean that factions have subsided.
Disgruntled party members have made peace with the fact that Zuma could no longer be retained as South Africa’s president.
They have also accepted that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will not lead the ANC at least until the party’s next elective conference.
Unsurprisingly, some politicians are primarily concerned with their own political survival. They will put their weight behind the ANC’s current leadership.
Secondly, opposition political parties will struggle to topple the ANC. The IFP is the obvious contender. However, its performance will be contingent upon the politics of the NFP.
The EFF appears to be gradually gaining ground and receiving a good reception among students at tertiary institutions. But because these elections are national and provincial, such support will not necessarily translate into an improved EFF performance.
KZN has the largest Indian population in the country, but they are not organised into a racial grouping, and belong to different parties.
Even the Minority Front (MF) of the late Amichand Rajbansi and the Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC) of Patrick Pillay lack numbers. Therefore, Indians have two options. Firstly, they can rally behind the MF and the DLC and push an Indian agenda.
While this would not be ideal in a Rainbow Nation, it would be justifiable. Secondly, they could join other political parties and represent the Indian voice within those parties. The EFF would not be their first option, following the statements made by its leader, Malema, about Indians.
The 2019 elections are critical. The ANC will be tested on whether it has recovered from the events of 2016-18. The ANC is aware of the danger of undermining its branches and the electorate.
The number of political parties registered with the IEC raises a serious concern. Some will be “vote spoilers”. This might necessitate a coalition government, for which South Africa is not yet ready!
The statues of ANC leaders alongside the M4 highway near Durban North, marking the party’s 107th anniversary.