Polls show significant growth, says IFP - despite KZN by-election losses
Despite losing by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga to its traditional arch rival the ANC, the IFP says it has shown significant growth in both provinces.
IFP's Nongoma mayor and the party's daily management committee chairperson Albert Mncwango said in a statement on Thursday that the party had shown significant growth in all areas it contested.
"We have increased our vote share by 50% in both wards in Mpumalanga and we have significantly improved our percentage increase in Okhahlamba and Abaqululi in KwaZulu-Natal respectively, an increase from the 2016 local government elections," he said.
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He said Wednesday's polls indicated how well the IFP would do in the national and provincial elections on May 8.
"The IFP is growing stronger by the day and with just over 20 days to go before the election date, the IFP is on an upward trajectory, winning hearts and minds of the electorate, who are desperately seeking a party with tried, tested and trusted leadership," said Mncwango.
The IFP leader has promised that "SA’s fourth-largest party will grow in each province and reclaim KwaZulu-Natal". This is despite the IFP losing both by-elections in Okhahlamba and Abaqulusi to their rivals the ANC on Wednesday.
The IFP lost Okhahlamba in the KZN Midlands despite its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who hit the campaign trail shortly after burying his wife Princess Irene Buthelezi, telling the party’s Siyanqoba rally in Bergville they would win the by-election.
"The IFP is ready to take back Okhahlamba, not because we are hungry for power but because we want more for this community. We want clean governance, honest leadership, transparency and participation. We want to bring the IFP's strategy for youth empowerment, which is already working wherever we govern. We want to serve your needs and make sure that you are respected in every decision taken by council. In essence we want justice," the veteran politician told his supporters.
The IFP made a stunning comeback during the 2016 local government elections, winning back outright majorities in several KwaZulu-Natal municipalities. It benefited from the disqualification of its splinter party, the NFP, and snatched victories in Ulundi, Nongoma, Hluhluwe, Mthonjaneni, Hlabisa, Mfolozi, Mzinyathi and former president Jacob Zuma’s home town, Nkandla.
The results changed the political landscape in the province and renewed the IFP's hope of making further inroads in next month's elections. However, it remains to be seen whether the party’s performance in the 2016 local government elections would translate into significant votes on May 8.
The veteran IFP leader, who celebrated his 90th birthday late last year, has been retained as the face of the party despite his wishes to retire from politics. Buthelezi dropped a bombshell during the launch of his party’s election campaign in Durban when he told IFP supporters that he was personally "very sceptical about a free and fair election".