"Zuma" factor takes votes from Minority Front

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pretoria - The "Zuma" factor and the formation of the breakaway Congress of the People (Cope) has had a negative impact on minority parties in the hotly contested KwaZulu-Natal province.

The ANC currently has 1 569 031 votes in the province, followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party with 609 330 votes.

In third position is the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 207 476 votes. The Minority Front (MF) tails with 46 668 votes in the province.

Senior Associate Political Analyst at the Centre for Policy Studies, Aubrey Matshiqi said that it was due to the popularity of African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma in the province that minority parties such as the MF have taken a knock.

Mr Zuma, who grew up in Nkandla, in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, has played a major role in the ANC's preliminary victory in the province - it is this factor that has added to the plight of the IFP and Minority Front.

As the counting of votes is about to be completed in KwaZulu-Natal, it appears that it will be highly impossible for the MF to retain the 1.86 percent it has received during the 2004 general elections after having an overall 51 339 votes.

Amichand Rajbansi's MF has traditionally garnered support from the large Indian community in KwaZulu-Natal.

"The minority voters have been strategic in these elections and people have decided to vote for a party which will have a positive impact in their lives.

"It not an overstatement if one assumes that the Minority Front has lost to the ANC because of the Zuma factor," Mr Matshiqi told BuaNews.

He said the emergence of Cope has also added to the plight of the party.

However, he said there was a slight possibility the MF would retain its seat in the next administration as Mr Rajbansi, who is the current provincial MEC for Sport and Recreation, has a positive relationship with the ANC in the province.

This opinion was shared by Independent Political Analyst, Elmon Mhlanga, who said while the MF's name itself was quite "degrading" and did not encourage voters, the "Zuma" factor had also had an influence in the decline of votes.

"Jacob Zuma, being a KwaZulu-Natal-born child, has been able to penetrate the Indian community and they have voted for the ANC.

"The Minority Front has indicated that it has no problem working with the ruling party, and voters realised that it was a waste of time to vote for the MF," he told BuaNews.

He said it might have been a mistake for Mr Rajbansi to openly confess that he was prepared to form a coalition with other parties before the elections had started.