ANC puts on show in Nquthu as poll arrives after bumpy ride
Voting stations for the highly anticipated by-election in the northern KwaZulu-Natal municipality of Nquthu opened at 7am yesterday.
The road to this day has been long and littered with hurdles, not only for the political parties vying for the lion's share of the area's 81000 voters, but also for residents, who have been in limbo for nearly 10 months without services.
There was bloodshed after DA candidate Zanele Masondo was allegedly attacked by a rival political supporter in her shop.
IFP tipped as victors in Nquthu by-election in KZN The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) claimed early successes in Nquthu‚ with reports of a landslide victory in a number of voting districts after by-elections at the dissolved northern KwaZulu-Natal municipality.
And the death of Sphamandla Ngobese, an ANC activist, shook the ruling party's campaign.
Here is why Nquthu matters:
1. Only council in the country without a mayor: For 10 months, and after six attempts, Nquthu failed to sit and elect office bearers, resulting in a council without a mayor, deputy mayor or speaker.
2. Umzinyathi district municipality cannot sit without Nquthu, which is one of four local municipalities under the district and the IFP already controls two - Msinga in Tugela Ferry and eNdumeni in Dundee - while the ANC only controls uMvoti in Greytown. By law, all local municipalities under a district have to elect their councils before a district is constituted.
3. ANC leaders and opposition parties have descended on Nquthu to woo voters: The top six ANC members - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, national chairman Baleka Mbete, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and several other national executive committee members, such as Bheki Cele, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane - all campaigned for the ANC in Nquthu. Battle-hardened IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, DA leader Mmusi Maimane and EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema all made a strong showing, with Malema staying for four days in Nquthu.
4. Kingmakers: The DA, EFF and the National Freedom Party are all vying for king-making status. It's possible the winner today between the ANC and the IFP will not have an outright majority. The boisterous campaign of the three parties is to bolster their standing by securing and consolidating the four seats among themselves scooped in the last municipal election.
5. Residents and service delivery: Nquthu matters because residents have been in limbo, with several services coming to an abrupt halt. It matters because whoever controls Nquthu between the ANC and the IFP will control the uMzinyathi district, thereby controlling the purse and the allocation of resources and bulk services like water, sanitation, energy and district road construction.