The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has tightened its grip on two northern KwaZulu-Natal municipalities after winning crucial by-elections on Wednesday.
The IFP snatched ward 6 from the ANC - cementing its place in the Mthonjaneni (Melmoth) local municipality.
The ward was won by the ANC during the November 2021 local government elections but the party’s councillor later resigned, setting the stage for a bitter by-election fight with the IFP.
A week before the elections, the IFP accused the provincial government, run by the ANC, of abusing state resources to score a victory.
The provincial government has denied the allegations saying it was undertaking routine service delivery programmes in the ward.
Meanwhile, the latest win for the IFP is a big one as it emerged victorious with a huge margin and including being triumphant in voting districts that it has never won before.
The IFP received 1377 votes while the ANC followed with 727 votes.
In third place was the EFF with 48 votes while Miniyokulinda Siphamandla, an independent obtained 46 votes.
The victory for the IFP also means that it has increased its tally of seats in the council while the ANC has shrunk to an extent that even if it joins forces with the EFF, it stands little chance of unseating the IFP.
The IFP went on to win the ward of Nkandla local municipality, the hometown of former President Jacob Zuma.
The ward was previously won by the IFP, but its councillor later resigned and the IEC called the by-election.
In Nkandla, the IFP clinched 1363 votes while the ANC, its obtained383 votes.
IFP chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Thami Ntuli, said the results show that the ANC is a spent force that is no longer trusted by voters.
“The resounding victory is a clear message to ANC MECs that their affiliation with the party no longer holds much value in the eyes of communities in KZN.
“The people are now aware of the ANC's failed strategy and tactics of using government departments during by-elections, only to disappear once the by-elections are over.
Ntuli alleged that the provincial cabinet even gave the people of the ward cows as a way of swaying them to vote for the ANC.
“In broad daylight, we witnessed certain ANC MECs and their departments using trucks from the Department of Transport to transfer food parcels from the Department of Social Development in an attempt to sway votes.
“Moreover, we observed the sudden donation of Borman bulls and cows to the people as a way to garner support.
“Fortunately, the people could not be bought. In fact, they saw through the ANC's deceptive tactics and made the right choice by voting for the IFP,” Ntuli said.
The ANC in the province has not yet commented regarding the latest setback at the polls in the north of the province where it was beginning to make inroads, more especially during the reign of former President Jacob Zuma.