The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has snatched another ward from the African National Congress (ANC) during the fiercely contested Ward 13 of Umhlathuze Municipality at Mpembeni on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
The by-election was held on Thursday. The ward became vacant after an ANC councillor resigned after he survived an attack on his life. This has increased the tally of the IFP’s seats in the economically thriving northern KwaZulu-Natal municipality.
The IFP and ANC at Umhlathuze Municipality now hold 25 seats. The entire council is made up of 67 seats.
The ward was contested by the IFP, ANC and EFF. Currently the municipality is governed by the IFP working with the DA which has eight seats. The IEC’s electoral officer in KwaZulu-Natal Ntombifuthi Masinga says voter turnout increased compared to the November 2021 local government elections.
“Three parties contested the by-election, the IFP, ANC and EFF and the IFP won the ward by attaining 53 percent of the votes. The voter turnout was quite high compared to the average that we expect in a by-election with is between the percentages of 40 and 50.”
The highly contested ward in some voting stations had pockets of tensions during the by-election. However, Masinga says all glitches encountered with political parties who operated outside the voting station were addressed accordingly.
“Any glitches that were encountered with political parties in terms of how we manage processes both inside and outside the voting station were resolved amicably with all political parties and all of them accepting the results of the by-election.”
The IFP says the party’s performance during the recent by-election could be the barometer of how the party will perform in next year’s general election.
Provincial chair Thami Ntuli says, “It is an inspiration to us when we see people voting for us in their numbers in each and every by-election, especially even in the historically ANC governed wards. It is an indication that we are a force that they cannot ignore in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and it is going to make us in a better position to have to work very hard being inspired by the support that the people of KwaZulu-Natal have given the IFP because it is an indication in fact that the people of KwaZulu-Natal, they want change. The people of KwaZulu-Natal want someone who will resolve the problems they are faced with.”
Several attempts to get a comment from the ANC have been unsuccessful.