With the elections only nine days away, one of the key provinces political parties will look to win over is KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
The province is notorious for seeing increased violence around this period, since the days of the Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) turf war with the African Nation Congress (ANC) in the lead up to the first democratic election.
IEC vows to clamp down on violence in KwaZulu-Natal
In March, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) vowed to implement security measures to combat violence in certain areas it considers to be hotspots.
Until now, there have been three murders linked to election violence and as the contest for the people’s votes enters its final lap, the electoral body, as well as provincial government, will want to have safety measures in place to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections.
Why the ANC has a stronghold in the province
KZN is regarded as the ANC’s stronghold. The ruling party has enjoyed immense rule in this province.
However, the progression of its opposition, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), as well as the sturdy growth of the Democratic Alliance (DA) has threatened its dominance over the years.
It is not as if the ANC, itself, has not contributed to its own problems. The ousting of former president Jacob Zuma fractured the party’s internal constituencies.
Zuma is revered as a hero in the province. Without him, the ANC is clearly weakened.
This could explain why his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has made strides in calling for unity in the fractionalised party.
The former president has also targeted the region in his election campaign, calling on the Zulu nation to remember the ANC that fought against apartheid rule and brought freedom to its people.
However, this election has been viewed as one of the most important since 1994, and opposition parties will want to capitalise on the ANC’s mistakes in vying for a seat at the helm of one of South Africa’ key-swing provinces.
How KZN will be won in this election
For a political party to rule the province, it has to receive a majority of the seats in the provincial legislature. In KZN, the legislature is made up of 80 members.
South Africa uses the proportional representation method in electing its leadership. This means that a vote counts for the political party and not its candidate.
In the context of establishing rule in the province, it also means that the result of the party’s performance in the polls will decide how many seats it will receive in the legislature.
Currently, the ANC enjoys majority rule in KZN with 52 of 80 seats in the legislature. This is because of the fact that, during the last elections, they received 65% of the votes in the province.
The DA only has 10 seats (12.5%), while the EFF only managed to attain 2.5% of the vote (two seats in legislature).
Because of the ANC’s scale of power in the region, coalitions may have no bearing in booting them from the helm.
Opposition parties basing their politics around the ANC’s failures have not been able to sway the voters of the region.
It will be even more difficult to defame the momentum Ramaphosa has garnered, since he stepped in to amend the errors made by his predecessor.
Whichever direction the pendulum swings on 8 May, it will mark the beginning of a new dawn in South Africa.