/ 1 June 2024

KZN electoral carnage a ‘message from our people’, says ANC provincial spokesperson

Screenshot 2024 06 01 At 17.17.27
KZN ANC secretary Bheki Mtolo, with provincial spokesperson, Mafika Mndebele. Photo supplied

After days of silence in the face of their decimation at the polls by the Umkhonto we Sizwe party, the ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal have finally broken their silence to accept the result as a “message” from the voters.

The party has gone from governing the province for the past 20 years with a clear majority to being reduced to 17% of the KwaZulu-Natal vote, with the MK party standing at 45.9% after Wednesday’s poll.

Its 44 seat domination of the 80 member provincial legislature is now broken, and the party is set to take up around 14 MPL posts when the first sitting is convened to swear in a new government.

While provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo and provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma did not responded to requests for comment on the ANC’s abysmal showing and have been absent from the Results Operation Centre (ROC), a video clip of spokesperson Mafika Mndebele was released by the ANC on Saturday in which they conceded defeat.

In it Mndebele said that the result was a message from its supporters and that it needed to be taken heed of.

“The message communicated by our people to us is quite clear,” said Mndebele  “They have been saying to us for some time that they love the ANC, but that things need to be done, that we need to change, that we need to fight corruption and focus on services to our people.”

Mndebele said that the ANC needed to “self correct” and it needed to “not only talk about this but we must be seen as doing it.”

He said the ANC in the province viewed the result as a “protest of our people” who were “saying we still love the ANC but that something must be done.”

“Whoever we send to the legislature, it must no longer be business as usual. We must not blame or label the people. We must rather say something was not right with ourselves and that we need to change,” he said.

Mndebele said voters had switched to the MK party because “they were saying they wanted to correct the ANC.”

“They voted for change in the ANC. We must read this correctly. This is a call for action,” he said.

The ANC provincial officials were meeting on Saturday afternoon to discuss how to respond further to the outcome, ahead of the release of the final results on Sunday once objections to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) have been resolved.

The current leadership came to power in July 2022 when the so-called Taliban faction took control of the ANC in the province, wiping the floor with the slate of then chairperson Sihle Zikalala.

They recalled Zikalala and replaced him with Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who had contested the chair’s position but failed to get onto the ballot. 

Duma became economic development MEC and leader of government business, a role he handled clumsily and in which he came under fire for repeated incidents in which he upstaged the premier.

Relations with the Zulu king have soured under their tenure, which has been punctuated by a number of disastrous decisions, including a reworking of the school nutrition programme last year which left millions of learners hungry for an extended period.

While the Taliban initially enjoyed the support of former president Jacob Zuma, who they visited immediately after being elected, relations with him also soured.

They declined to nominate either Zuma himself or Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as their candidate for the ANC presidency in December 2022, instead backing Zweli Mkhize, who lost to Ramaphosa.

Their alienation of Zuma and his supporters, combined with a crisis in water provision in the province and service delivery failures across municipalities, appears to have added to the voters teaching them the same lesson they taught Zikalala in 2022.