“The DA is trying to capitalise on the many scandals in which Zuma had been implicated by referring to the ruling party as Zuma’s ANC. In KwaZulu-Natal, the masses view the campaign as a continuation of Zuma’s persecution,” analyst Zakhele Ndlovu, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said.
Zuma’s solid support in KZN would definitely translate into an overwhelming victory for the ANC in the province.
Zuma, who is battling negative media coverage over the Nkandla report, has been criss-crossing the province since last week in a bid to woo voters.
Nonetheless, the ANC leader was warmly received in his home province, as thousands lined up to cheer him on as he embarked on door-to-door campaigns and addressed rallies.
In Hammersdale, where Zuma campaigned last week, Thuli Majozi, an unemployed mother of four, summed up Zuma’s popularity in the province. “That lady Thuli Madonsela must just tell how much she wants Zuma to pay and we will raise that money.
“We have done it before – they must leave Zuma alone.”
In 2005, after Zuma’s expulsion from former President Thabo Mbeki’s Cabinet following corruption allegations, it was KZN as a province which stood by him and helped propel him to the highest office.
Zuma’s elevation to the ANC presidency, following the hotly contested Polokwane conference in 2007, also helped the ANC consolidate its support in the pro-vince, where, in the 2009 national polls, it annexed the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) after the governing party’s support in the province had jumped to 62.9% from the 46.98% in 2004.
While the defeat of the IFP in the province put Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s party on a slippery slope that saw the party’s support further eroded in the 2011 local government elections, a new political player – the National Freedom Party (NFP) – poses a serious threat to the ruling party’s dominance in the province, where it aims to register a two-thirds majority in the May 7 polls.
Launched in 2011 by former IFP chairperson Zanele Magwaza-KaMsibi, after she quit the party along with thousands of supporters following a bruising succession battle in the IFP, the party has recently been making inroads in the province.
Magwaza-KaMsibi said she was confident the NFP would garner more than 1.8 million votes in the upcoming elections.
The ANC has recently aunched an aggressive campaign against the NFP, with Bheki Cele leading a massive protest at the NFP’s controlled Zululand District Municipality last week, accusing the IFP splinter group of maladministration and corruption.