Zohra Teke: In an MK landscape, where to now KZN?

Zohra Teke. Picture: Independent Newspapers

Zohra Teke. Picture: Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 18, 2024


The fat lady has finally belted out her song. And it wasn’t umshini wami. Instead, we got a kumbaya. Just not everyone joined the chorus.

South Africans have finally woken up to a new dawn, a coalition government. But, in KwaZulu-Natal, the sun has not set. It’s a hot bed of politics and still reeling. The uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK), fresh from its spectacular election victory, has suffered an equally spectacular defeat – excluded nationally and failing to clinch a majority in the KZN legislature, despite securing 45.35% of the provincial votes at the polls.

Their internal squabbles – right up until the provincial inauguration, is being cited as reasons for their failure to form a government. Their failure to meet with the IFP and alleged arrogance when meeting with the NFP and the ANC is said to have dealt the final blows.

Claims of sleeper cells in other parties promising to vote with the MK and having numbers on their side did not come to fruition in the legislature, leading to defeat of critical positions. They either lied or were lied to. The jury is still out on that.

But, their electorate in KZN – 45.35%, 1.6 million handed them victory on a plate, that’s the reality of the MK election success. The mandate to protect the Zulu monarchy was given. Zuma, thrown to the wolves by the ANC, came back leading the pack, strong, fierce and king of the jungle.

But, they just could not keep it together in the end. Embroiled in leadership battles, court challenges, internal disunity, all contributed to them taking their eyes off the prize – only for this to be snatched from them under the cover of darkness. They did not see it coming. They were secure in comfort, emboldened just by the election outcome.

The shock at seeing their defeat in the KZN legislature, the powerhouse of the province, is a bitter pill to swallow for many within and outside the MK.

This is made more painful by their preferred choice of premier in KZN, deputy prime minister of the Zulu Royal House, Phathisizwe Chiliza. He was defeated by the IFP’s Thami Ntuli – by just two votes.

And, looking at the numbers, the national coalition stood their ground and voted accordingly, enough to clinch it for the IFP.

I am told anger within the MK is mounting against leadership. That being Jacob Zuma. Many feel let down and betrayed at the perceived failure at negotiations. “Why did not they negotiate with the IFP and the ANC? Those parties were willing. Everything was Zuma. They would not listen to some of us when we tried to give our input. This was run like a family business and our opinions did not count. And now look where we are. We won KZN at the polls but could not negotiate properly so lost it. We could not even get a proper list for Parliament together. We have our own party to blame,” an MK insider tells me.

Zuma is due to hold a media briefing on Sunday and the response to this reflects the mood. On social media, his statement was met with responses like ‘go mind your cattle baba, you lost’, and ‘for what, I am angry for my wasted vote’.

One, went further, asking ‘must we prepare for looting’. It’s that sentiment that’s concerning, in a province that has not yet healed from the scars of the last riots. And business is already anticipating that.

So where to now, KZN?

We protect our economy, jobs, people, and this province. KZN is the second largest contributor to the country’s national GDP – at 16% – that translates to approximately R500 billion going into national coffers. Those voted in power must be held accountable and allowed the space to prove what they can do for South Africans – across the divide.

There are many who disapprove of the coalition partnership. Anger, bitterness from some, jubilation and kumbaya from others. As a Muslim, I too feel conflicted about the DA and its stance on Palestine on the one hand and my fierce loyalty to my country as a South African first. I want a party that will put our people, our jobs, our economy first.

The MK will need to pull a rabbit out of the hat to come back from this, to claw back the credibility from its angry supporters who feel their votes have been ‘wasted’. And Zuma, the master chess player, will need to turn magician, once again, to turn the tide of discontent right now.

Until then, the ANC, for its part, has left the doors open. Even for MK. Even after the coalition agreement was signed, and the ink dried. This, in spite of the DA vowing not to work with the MK. The ANC continues to hold out that olive branch.

This must be taken by all parties, MK included. It’s not too late. If they are serious about not being in it for positions or power, they need to humble themselves, put aside differences and get on board.

The time for settling political scores is done. It’s a moment of humility for the sake of the country. KZN especially does not have the appetite or energy for a fractious government. Its people are exhausted.

Peace and putting South Africans first should now be the order of day.

* Zohra Teke is an investigative journalist and independent contributor.

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of IOL or Independent Media.

IOL Opinion