/ 13 October 2022

While the Taliban cry Zuma, the IFP eats their lunch

Taliban Anc Conf Mail Guardian 10
Explanations for the giant power cut in eThekwini make as much sense as the ANC plan to win back voters in the Kingdom


It’s early, but the results of Wednesday’s by-elections are out.

The Inkatha Freedom Party has taken ward 11 in the uMuziwabantu local municipality — that’s Harding — with 53 % of the vote, beating the Sun Party (23%) and the ANC (16%).

That makes it three out of three for the Elephants since August — they took wards off the ANC in by-elections in uMvoti and uMfolozi — who have been eating the governing party’s lunch — electorally speaking and otherwise — on an increasingly regular basis since 2016.

The news is not good for the ANC’s provincial leadership.

The Taliban came down from the mountains — as it were — at the party’s elective conference in July with a promise to restore khongolose’s dominance in KwaZulu-Natal by restoring its relationship with former president Jacob Zuma.

They argued that dumping Nxamalala — and not state capture and the burning and looting of the province and part of Johannesburg in his name last July — had cost the ANC badly in the 2019 and 2021 elections in the province.

They set about a series of pilgrimages to visit uBaba — and made sure they were in the courtroom and on the podium with him on Monday — and started making nice with the IFP president emeritus Mangosuthu Buthelezi — as part of their programme to bring back ANC voters and regain lost electoral ground.

That went well.

I’ve never really bought the argument that recalling Zuma and forcing him to account for his actions is what drove former ANC voters to dump the party and created the electoral crisis that it currently faces in KwaZulu-Natal and the country as a whole.

I am a former ANC voter, and that isn’t what stopped me from voting for the party in 2011 and spoiling my vote — or staying at home — in every election since then.

The ANC got my X on every ballot — local, provincial, national — from 1994 to 2009 — without the slightest hesitation on my part; without even a second thought.

Before that, I didn’t vote.

I made my mark next to Nelson Mandela’s head — and Thabo Mbeki’s and Zuma’s — in ballot boxes all over the province — Ohlange High School, Albert Park Bowling Club, Ntolwane Primary School; Ulundi Unit A hall — the black, green and gold got my vote, poll in, poll out.

1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2009 — seven elections, regular as clockwork.

In 2011, I didn’t cast my vote for the first time — I wasn’t in my ward, so I couldn’t.

By 2014, it was clear that Zuma was looting the country, rather than running it, and that the ANC wasn’t prepared to stop him, so I withheld my vote.

I did the same in 2016.

In 2019 I was tempted, but I held off, wanting to see what the ANC inside and outside government would do about state capture before reconsidering my decision ahead of November 2021.

What went down in Durban in July made up my mind for me.

When it comes to 2024, the Taliban aren’t making things any easier for me, but perhaps I’m not the kind of ANC voter they are looking to draw back?

Durban appears to have — in the main — gotten over Tuesday night’s massive power outage.

Things got crazed for a bit — a three-hour, half-a-city blackout — complete with a howling 37°C sirocco that appeared out of nowhere just after the lights went out and then suddenly faded — that threw Durban into a panic.

Well, some of Durban.

Half of eThekwini was in palpitations, terrified that the city being plunged into darkness was an act of sabotage to mark Zuma’s appearance at court for his private prosecution of journalist Karyn Maughan and the National Prosecuting Authority’s advocate Billy Downer — an acknowledgement of Nxamalala’s acknowledgement of the “support” he received when he was locked up last July.

The other half was hoping that it was.

I wasn’t too convinced that we were in for another round of looting — it could, after all, have been a malfunction caused by Nathi Mthethwa’s glow-in-the-dark electric flagpole or the hot air from outside the court in Pietermaritzburg — so I smoked a spliff and set about enjoying the quiet.

The eThekwini municipality can’t — or won’t — explain what went down, beyond telling us that the lights were indeed off for three hours and they don’t know why it happened.

Electrifying — no.

Enlightening — even less.

I’m just thankful that eThekwini hasn’t been able to get its hands on the nuclear power station it wants to acquire to help end load-shedding in the city as yet.

Welcome to the kingdom.