A tale of two cities: KZN on knife edge as uncertainty remains over who will govern the province

Zohra Teke. Graphic: IOL

Zohra Teke. Graphic: IOL

Published Jun 12, 2024


by Zohra Teke

"I am nervous, I won't lie. I don't know what's going to happen with this Zuma party. Let's hope the Democratic Alliance (DA) manages to strike a deal with the ANC."

That's Mike, a 42 year old restaurant owner in Durban North. His sentiments are echoed by many others in KwaZulu-Natal's affluent suburbs.

Fearful of the future, some have already packed up and are preparing to emigrate. To Cape Town or Europe. Because Cape Town is another country, neh.

But, ask Simon, an ice-cream seller on Durban's beach promenade and its happy days. "I am happy, I am so happy to have MK, it will mean a better life for me, but I am also worried now, they are fighting with MK, they do not want MK in government," he tells me, his wide, toothless smile beaming in the winter sun.

A tale of two cities? Perhaps. But, Mike and Simon are united in their joys and fears, for different reasons. Its an interesting insight.

They're both excited at the historic defeat of the ANC. Yet, both fearful too. For one, the fear of the unknown, the what if uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK) governs.

The fear of Zulu rule. The fear of Zuma. For the other, the fear of not having Zuma.

Not having MK, representing the only hope for a better life for the 1.6 million who voted for them in KZN.

But, as we usher in a new era, the opening of a new parliament, there's little excitement.

The euphoria over the defeat of the ANC has waned since the elections, overtaken by a heightened nervousness as the cloud of uncertainty over the future of KZN hangs over the province.

There's definitely a palpable tension in the air, everyone is on edge. And, even with the resilience that people in this province are known for, there's an unshakable unease - a calm before the storm.

For some, its the fear of what's to come. For others, the fear of what may not come.

KZN is still very much a polarised society, steeped in racial divide, despite our strong values of Ubuntu.

We come together in times of need - but don't expect to see blended families or mixed race couples often.


Or people of colour together unless it's a sport or corporate event. Then we're madly patriotic and madly united - before returning to our pockets of comfort.

Memories of a province ravaged by riots and communities barricading themselves against invasion still haunts this beautiful province.

And for many, like Mike, this represents MK.

The scars of how communities who lived together - African and Indian, turned on each other, are deep.

KZN has never moved forward in crossing the racial divide, despite concerted efforts by the younger generation. The election outcome and support of parties demographically is evidence of this.

The undertones of stoking racial tensions in KZN has further exacerbated fears and created further divisions.

Electoral campaign attacks on MK and smaller parties is reminiscent of apartheid' style 'swart gevar' tactics and further entrenched divisions and played on security fears.

Social cohesion will never happen in the echelons of parliament, or in task teams, or in corporate boardrooms. It begins with us, the people of KZN.

It begins with embracing the unknown, being bold enough to step out of our comfort zones.

The people of KZN deserve that chance. And, whether you voted MK or not, that is the party chosen by the majority.

We can choose to embrace it, be part of the solution or forever remain on the fringes of a divided society, held captive by our fears.

KZN is at a defining crossroad. The elections is the vehicle chosen. We, the people, collectively, will drive it and determine the journey. We can make it beautiful, together.

**Zohra Teke is an investigative journalist and independent contributor

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

IOL Opinion