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14 Dec 2007 17:10
A Jacob Zuma-led African National Congress will have a major impact in KwaZulu-Natal, analysts and politicians in the province said on Friday.
They agreed the ANC’s popularity in the province would increase at the expense of the Inkatha Freedom Party if Zuma was elected the party’s new leader at its 52nd National Conference in Polokwane next week.
The Democratic Alliance predicted a Zuma-led ANC would also lead to increased support for the DA at the expense of the IFP.
Political analyst Protas Madlala said the IFP was extremely worried about an ANC under Zuma’s leadership.
He said party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi also knew this posed a threat to the IFP.
“If you listen to his [Buthelezi’s] last speech [at IFP Youth Brigade] I believe that he came out in support of Mbeki.”
He said the IFP had garnered much of its support against the ANC by “saying to hell with this Xhosa organisation”.
‘A Zulu is being persecuted’
This tactic would become less effective if the same Xhosa organisation came under the leadership of a Zulu.
There would be voters who would perceive any action against Zuma as proof that “a Zulu is being persecuted”, Madlala said.
University of KwaZulu-Natal political analyst Dr Lawrence Piper said: “There is no doubt about it. A Zuma-led ANC is much more of a threat to the IFP than an Mbeki-led ANC.”
Zuma’s links with Zulu tradition made him “easily identifiable with the IFP rank and file”.
Piper said it had been “notable” that IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi had recently complained about the way President Thabo Mbeki was being treated.
At the opening of the IFP Youth Brigade conference held last weekend in Ulundi, Buthelezi said that his differences with Mbeki did not prevent him from “acknowledging that South Africa has been led by a talented patriot with a clear grasp of public policy for the last eight years”.
IFP secretary general Reverend Musa Zondi denied any concerns over a Zuma-led ANC.
“People vote for the party, not the individual.
Look, under Mbeki the ANC got a two-thirds majority.
“The ANC is a huge brand name and it makes no difference [if Zuma leads the party].”
Zondi said that the IFP was more concerned about “tensions within the party and negative effects the outcome [of the ANC leadership race] may have on the country”.
The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary general Senzo Mchunu said: “No doubt, it “[a Zuma victory] will have a huge impact on KwaZulu-Natal.”
“We have seen a lot of interest and change in the attitudes towards the ANC in the Nkandla area,” he said.
Zuma was born and raised in Nkandla, an area that has strongly supported the IFP in every election since the demise of apartheid in 1994.
Mchunu said the ANC garnered 47,8% of the vote in the 2004 election and he was hopeful that the party would top 50% in the next election.
An overwhelming number of ANC branches in the province have expressed their support for a Zuma-led ANC.
DA KZN leader Mike Ellis said the DA in the province would benefit from a Zuma-led ANC, and he was of the opinion that the IFP “could well be in trouble with a Zuma presidency”.
Minority groups, including Zulus, would be anxious about Zuma at the ANC helm, and were likely to turn to the DA as a result.
Uncertainty over what Zuma stood for would contribute to shifting voter support in favour of the DA.
“There will be definite growth [for the DA in KZN]. We don’t want to focus on minority groups, but I think minority groups will be very anxious about a Zuma presidency,” Ellis said. - Sapa
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