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Death knell for ANC’s political foes?

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William Gumede

South Africa’s national elections last week have reshaped the contours of the country’s political landscape. It has almost certainly killed off the careers of many opposition leaders who have become institutions and their parties with them. It virtually obliterated the peer parties of the ANC, with their roots as liberation movements, such as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Azanian Peoples’ Organisation (Azapo). It is clear the electorate believes these parties are irrelevant, outdated and under poor leadership. The Inkatha Freedom Party, whose founder, Mangosuthu Buthelezi also professed that it has its origins in liberation movement politics has also been brought down to size.

 The IFP has dominated the KwaZulu Natal province since the 1960s, but embarrassingly lost out to the ANC now. ANC President Jacob Zuma’s overt appeal to Zulu speakers in the province who have supported the IFP in the past, by arguing that is better to support him (Zuma) for the presidency, and have a Zulu-speaker in the presidency, has evidently worked. Many IFP supporters have voted for Zuma merely on the basis of ethnic affinity, rather than his record in government.

 But this strategy also run the risks of increasing ethnic divisions, with some Zuma supporters already whispering for the ‘Xhosa-Nostra’ to be purged from government. This is a reference to individuals who were allies of former President Thabo Mbeki, are Xhosa speakers or who are from the Eastern Cape province from where Mbeki and former President Nelson Mandela hail.

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