/ 29 May 2024

S’bu Ndebele refutes claims about Jacob Zuma’s role in 2004 ANC victory

Whatsapp Image 2024 05 29 At 16.06.26
Former KZN premier S'bu Ndebele cast his vote at Northwood High School. Photo: Paddy Harper

Former KwaZulu-Natal premier S’bu Ndebele said on Wednesday that it was “unfair and inaccurate” for the media to portray former president Jacob Zuma as the leader who had won KwaZulu-Natal for the ANC in 2004.

Ndebele made the comments at Northwood High School in Durban North, the same voting station that Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen made use of. 

“The ANC campaigned very hard under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki and myself in KwaZulu-Natal in 2004. To attribute this achievement to another person is unfair and inaccurate,” Ndebele said.

While delays in opening were reported in eThekwini metro and other parts of the province, more than 95% of KwaZulu-Natal’s 4 974 voting stations were ready for voters at 7am, as planned.

Provincial electoral officer Ntombifuthi Masinga told the Mail & Guardian that in the majority of the cases, delays in opening were a result of police escorts arriving late to transport election materials to the stations in question.

The province has more than 5.7 million registered voters and is among the most heavily contested, with the ANC facing a threat from both the DA and Inkatha Freedom Party coalition and the breakaway Umkhonto weSizwe party.

Masinga said that voting in the province was “generally going well” but that “non-availability of police to escort staff carrying sensitive materials” had caused delays in eThekwini, uThukela, Mtubatuba, Jozini and the Ugu district.

Service delivery protests had affected three voting stations at Umuziwabantu and two had been blocked by “political parties”, resulting in an hour delay in opening.

Masinga said that in Eshowe ward 7, an Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) area manager had been prevented from leaving the storage centre by one of the parties, but that the situation had been defused by the police.

There had also been a problem with parties attempting to enter the provincial storage centre where the special votes cast on Monday and Tuesday were being kept until they were added to the ballot boxes at the end of voting on Wednesday.

“Things are going well. The only disruptions were last night at our storage facility where the parties wanted to keep guard overnight. The SAPS pushed them out, but some stayed outside overnight outside the gate,” Masinga said.

“I can imagine they are anxious about what happened to the ballot boxes with special votes overnight. We have never had this problem before. It’s new.”

Water supplies had to be trucked in to 33 voting stations in eThekwini where water had not been delivered in advance and which the health department wanted to close.

“Fortunately, in the metro everything is within reach. We are delivering water in 25 litre containers,” she said.

Most polling stations visited by the M&G had long queues of voters who had turned out to vote in arguably the most significant — and heavily contested — national and provincial election since 1994.

Steenhuisen also cast his vote at Northwood High School — his alma mater — where more than 400 people had already voted by the time he arrived at 9.30am.

He hopes the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa will be able to dislodge the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, where the governing party secured 55.4% of the vote in 2019.  

Steenhuisen said he was “very confident” that they would be able to collectively secure the 50% plus one needed to form a new government.

“If that’s not the case we will convene as the Multi-Party Charter over the next few days and look at the lie of the land and then decide what steps we take next,” Steenhuisen said.

He said the DA would only enter a coalition with a party with which it shared values and that it and its coalition partners would “act in the best interests of South Africans”.