On Saturday, the ANC will host its annual political pilgrimage, the January 8 Statement Rally where plans for the year ahead will be articulated.
There is no denying the fact that as we start the new year, the people of KwaZulu-Natal are waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the date for the 2024 general elections.
As we count down to the elections, the stakes are getting higher.
Undoubtedly, the unpredictable and rapid political developments will influence voter behaviour and hopefully ensure higher electoral participation.
There are more than 26 million South Africans who are registered to vote.
During the last voter registration campaign last month, more than 187 000 people apparently visited registration stations in KZN to register and update their details on the voters roll.
The Electoral Commission of South Africa reported that among those people, more than 34 000 were young people who would vote for the first time.
In the 1994 general elections, around 19.5 million people of all racial groups, young and old, voted for the first time for a democratic government.
It is the negotiations leading up to elections that effectively determined the look and feel of this country and KZN in particular over the past 30 years.
About 19 political parties participated in the 1994 elections. The results of the election were:
- ANC – 12.2 million votes.
- NP – 3.6 million.
- IFP – 2 million.
- Freedom Front – 424 555.
- Democratic Party – 338 426.
In KZN, leading up to the general elections, the political violence turned brother against brother – neighbour against neighbour – sister against sister.
It destroyed many families, ravaged socio-economic infrastructure and heaped misery on different parts of the province where millions of people faced poverty and lived in underdeveloped areas.
Many of us argued whether what was unfolding was an ethnic violence or an ideological conflict.
Looking back, it becomes abundantly clear that those who were opposed to the new dispensation and transformation in general benefited from the bloodshed.
A high level of diplomacy, as opposed to winning a political and ideological struggle, paved the way for negotiations.
The ensuing negotiations enabled the people of the province to also go to the polls and be part of the creation of a new South Africa.
The ANC leaders became central in the negotiations across all levels.
The high level of diplomacy was steeped in understanding that both sides involved in the conflict – ANC and IFP – had the power and the ability to make life of either group untenable.
There was a general agreement that all parties had to commit to negotiations, not consultation.
Negotiations, in a sense, that leaders of political parties, their supporters and key role-players had to negotiate better ways of building a new society.
Through their actions, leaders of political parties acted in a manner that ensured that people on the ground were consumed by genuine negotiations on how to collectively establish a new society.
Church leaders actively took charge and provided spiritual guidance.
Captains of industry, who faced crippling labour unrest and destruction of the economy, negotiated for a better future.
Professionals in various sector of the economy began to reimagine their new roles.
Organised labour intensified negotiations on the shop floor as part of the building process.
Students and youth organisations began to define their roles in the building of a new province.
The creation of peace and normalisation of the environment helped focus on the negotiations on how to build a new society.
The approach supported political leaders who were leading the process of transition.
This is where we come from as KZN.
As we move forward, it is important to pause.
Talking about the future without referring to the past will not help.
Those who will be voting for the first time in 2024, will be interested to know the results of the 1994 elections in this province:
- IFP – 1.8 million votes – 50,32% and 41 seats in the legislature.
- ANC – 1.1 million votes – 32.33% and 26 seats in the legislature.
One is lucky to have witnessed the transition from a homeland of KwaZulu under the apartheid government to a prosperous KwaZulu-Natal province under a democratic government.
I make this statement with a clear understanding that everyone has a different opinion about luck.
What I consider as good luck may constitute bad luck to someone else.
As we count down to the 2024 elections, I will be reflecting on the journey of building this province socially, politically and economically.
Ndabezinhle Sibiya is a government communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.