Durban - With only 220 voting stations awaiting finalisation for the provincial results in KwaZulu-Natal earlier on Friday, the DA looked set to dislodge the IFP as the official opposition in the province.
It had secured 12.15 percent (427 734 votes) by 11am. The ANC maintained its vast lead, with 64.49 percent (2.265 million votes of the 3.56 million counted).
The DA is the surprise package in KZN, increasing its support from 9 percent in 2009.
University of KZN politics lecturer, Zakhele Ndlovu, said the DA had surprised many. The battle for who would become the official opposition had been expected to be between the NFP and the IFP.
“The DA has really received a boost from the minorities, especially in the Indian areas,” he said.
“It is no secret that minorities have never felt comfortable with the ANC, so with the death of Amichand Rajbansi (the former MF leader) some people had to find a new home and they voted the DA.”
By Friday morning the MF had only managed to get 36 176 votes (1.03 percent). With this margin the party might just get one seat in the 80-member provincial legislature.
Five years ago the MF received over 70 000 votes, allowing it to send two members to the legislature. But with fewer people heeding the call to “do it for the Raj”, party leader Shameen Thakur Rajbansi might be the only MF member going to the provincial legislature.
Ndlovu said this was the final nail in the MF’s coffin. “The MF in fact died when Rajbansi died.”
About 30 000 votes separated the DA from the IFP which had scored 397 145 (11.28 percent) by 11am. This would be a huge disappointment to the IFP whose backing looks likely to be slashed in half from the 22 percent it scored in 2009.
IFP leaders put on a brave face. They said the IFP had, despite obituaries being written about it, proven it had staying power.
“The doomsayers never gave us any chance so in that context we did well,” the party’s deputy national chairman, Albert Mncwango, said this morning.
He admitted, though, that it would be a big disappointment if the IFP were to lose its status as the official opposition in KZN.
“Yes it is true the DA has experienced phenomenal growth and it would sadden us if we were to lose that status as the official opposition.”
Mncwango attributed the IFP’s decline to the split it suffered in 2011 when the NFP was formed.
“All this should be seen in the context that we are rebuilding after that split. It is not going to happen overnight. But we are encouraged by the votes we are picking up in other provinces. This would form a basis for growth,” said Mncwango.
The IFP was strongest in the two municipalities of Ulundi, the home town of IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and Umsinga.
The DA worked hard to lure members of the MF. Recently three MF councillors defected from the party to join the DA.
The DA has also been making inroads into MF strongholds, such as Chatsworth, where it was able to snatch a ward from the MF.
DA provincial leader, Sizwe Mchunu, was confident his party would remain in second position after the final results were declared.
He said the growth of his party was due to its consistent message and campaigning in non-traditional DA areas.
“With 95 percent having been counted we can safely say we are the official opposition. We have met our target to become the official opposition and have surpassed our target of 12 percent. In the so-called Indian areas we won with flying colours,” Mchunu said.
The face of the opposition is also likely to be changed by the entry in KZN of the Economic Freedom Fighters. Vusi Khoza, the former ANC councillor convicted of public violence, will be representing the EFF in the legislature. The party had drawn 1.78 percent of the vote (62 427), and if the margin continued, a second EFF member might be in line for a seat. Khoza was confident that by close of day, the EFF would have secured another seat.
“KZN is a difficult province, it was never going to be easy for us if you consider that in this province you have two very strong regional parties, the NFP and the IFP.”
He said the EFF would be going to the legislature to change the status quo.
“We will even be wearing our berets in the legislature we are going to shake things up,” he said.
Another newcomer, the NFP, will also be sending a few members to the legislature although it looked unlikely to reach its target of being the official opposition.
The IFP offshoot had recorded 267 951 votes (7.63 percent).
Party leader, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, said the party was happy with its achievements at its first general elections.