Mission implausible for the DA’s man in Nkandla

Malibongwe Dubazane is the Democratic Alliance’s candidate for ward 14, Nkandla local municipality, the home of former president Jacob Zuma, for the 1 November local government elections.

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Dubazane, a ceiling and flooring contractor by profession, is also the DA’s candidate for ward 13 at Nkandla.

Ward 13 is currently held by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which took it back from the ANC in the by-election last November, and increased its majority at Nkandla, which it won with 54% of the vote in 2016.

Dubazane is also the DA’s ward candidate for ward 11, ward 1 and all the rest of Nkandla’s 14 wards, the result of the only other DA activist who had registered as a candidate, withdrawing from the list at the last moment.

Not surprisingly, Dubazane also tops the DA proportional representation (PR) list for Nkandla, which falls under the ANC-controlled King Cetshwayo district municipality, for the local government poll.

Dubazane turns 36 on 2 November and hopes that the voters will give him a birthday present in the form of a ward — or a proportional representation (PR) seat on the 28 member Nkandla council — which would also be a first for the DA in the municipality.

But he faces a serious uphill battle.

The ANC took 51% of the vote in the ward in 2016, beating the IFP which took 47%. 

The DA took 1%, as did the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), so a seat for the province’s third-largest political party in ward 14 appears to be something of a stretch, based on previous election results.

Nkandla is currently held by the IFP. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Boosting the PR vote 

Despite this, Dubazane believes that the strategy of candidates contesting more than one ward in municipalities will assist the party in boosting its PR vote in areas in which it has no hope of winning a ward.

The approach has been used by smaller parties in municipalities since 1996 and allows them to benefit from the cumulative effect of pockets of support across wards dominated by the larger parties. 

This election, the DA has fielded multiple ward candidates in, predominantly, the rural municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal to boost its PR count at local and district level.

The  IFP is using the same tactic in the eThekwini metro, where it is contesting all 111 wards using a smaller number of candidates.

Dubazane, who lives in ward 11 at Nkandla, where he was born, said the DA believed  that the negative effects on service delivery caused by the impasse between the IFP-controlled local municipality and the ANC-controlled district municipality would sway more voters towards the DA.

“The district is under the ANC and Nkandla under the IFP. They can’t work together. If the road is damaged, the IFP won’t go to the district and ask the ANC to come and fix it. It is the people here who suffer,’’ Dubazane said. “The district offices are far from here, in Richards Bay. They do not know what is going on here and how people have to live.”

Dubazane also believes that the “poor” quality of public representatives in the municipality will assist in shifting voters to the DA.

“People have voted for councillors at Nkandla and in the district, but they are not being represented. People here have been misled,” he said. “People here have been programmed to think a certain way for many years. That is what we need to overcome.”

Dubazane said his priority, if elected, would be to ensure roads throughout the ward — which spans 153km2 — were upgraded, because this would assist in improving people’s lives by allowing more widespread service delivery to take place more easily.

Dubazane believes that the presence of the former president at KwaNxamalala village, which falls in the middle of the ward, has not benefited ordinary residents.

“He has done nothing for Nkandla, even when he was president. People thought that this place would be developed, but it didn’t happen. Some people and their families benefited but not the community. People may love him for coming from here, but he has done nothing for this community,” Dubazane said.

Election posters in Nkandla. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

‘A decade of development’

The ANC candidate for ward 14, Sicelo Thusi, doesn’t share Dubazane’s view. 

Thusi, 52, replaces Bongokwakhe Mbambo as the ANC’s candidate for the ward, which it first won from the IFP in 2011. 

The principal of the King Cetshwayo High School — the school has won a number of accolades from the education department for its exemplary matric results — is Zuma’s neighbour at KwaNxamalala.

“The former president has been good for this place. There has been a lot of development over the past 10 years,” Thusi said.

ANC candidate for ward 14 Sicelo Thusi. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Thusi believes that his sense of community spirit, and his desire to see those around him flourish and achieve a better standard of living, makes him a good choice for the voters.

“I like to help people to fulfil their dreams. In this area people know me for that. I want to uplift the standard of living of everybody in this community,” Thusi said.

Thusi said, if elected, his first priority would be to ensure that access roads throughout the ward were improved and graded properly.

“There are problems with access roads in parts of the ward — when it rains people have to leave their cars and walk. There is not enough access to clean water. People need jobs,” he said.

When Mail & Guardian visited the ward this week, Thusi was preparing for door-to-door work in the blazing sun, together with a group of ANC volunteers.

ANC volunteers gather to go campaigning in the Nkandla area. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The ward’s most famous resident was not at home because he had gone to Pietermaritzburg to lay charges against the prosecutor in his corruption case, Billy Downer, for allegedly leaking his medical report to the media.

Skhanyiso Ntuli, 22, a fine arts graduate from the Durban University of Technology, is one of the volunteers who was in the field with Thusi.

Ntuli, who graduated in June, said he had witnessed the development of the area over the years while growing up there.

“Life is better here. There are bursaries for students [courtesy of the Jacob Zuma Foundation and the Moses Kotane Institute] for high school and tertiary,” Ntuli said.

“As a creative person I can see what has happened in the two terms the ANC has been here. That is why I am campaigning for the third ANC councillor,” he said. “We need to continue to develop this area and to create more agricultural projects that will give young people a way to earn a living here instead of moving away to look for jobs.”

ANC volunteer Skhanyiso Ntuli. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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