South African Election Guide: Fierce contest in prospect in the kingdom of fear

CHIEF Mangosuthu Buthelezi's late entrance into the election is expected to make the race in Natal province one of the most hotly contested in the country.

An absolute majority is no longer a certainty for the African National Congress, with opinion polls putting its provincial support at between 40 and 50 per cent. Chief Buthelezi's mainly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party is forecast to win up to 25 per cent, with the National Party running at 15 per cent.

That would raise a possibility of Inkatha and the National Party uniting to deny the ANC control of the provincial assembly, or at least to create a strong opposition. The two parties have a common commitment to free enterprise, as well as long-established ties.

While Chief Buthelezi opposed the National Party's plans in the 1970s to convert the KwaZulu 'homeland' he has governed for the past 20 years into a nominally independent territory, Inkatha joined forces with the government and its security forces in the 1980s to battle the ANC.

Inkatha benefited from support by the National Party government as recently as 1991, when it was revealed that state funds, administered by the Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, were being given to Inkatha to mount rallies to challenge the ANC. Last month an independent commission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone revealed that police generals were co-operating in a gun-running conspiracy to destabilise the ANC.

The National Party's natural constitutency, among white and Indian voters who dominate the provincial economy, might fear an alliance with Inkatha, however. Many have been put off by Chief Buthelezi's increasing emphasis on Zulu nationalism and by the violence practised by his Inkatha supporters against the ANC.

The mainly black townships around Natal's urban centres, such as the port of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, are the ANC's provincial strongholds. They are home to the working class, the unemployed, and to thousands of people who either fled poverty and violence in the Inkatha-controlled countryside or who are descendants of those who sought refuge from the excesses of Zulu kings of decades past.

In fact, while Inkatha is known as the party of South Africa's estimated eight million Zulus, all opinion polls suggest that the ANC is the favourite choice among the country's biggest single ethnic group.

It is in the townships where political violence, mainly between supporters of Inkatha and the ANC, has claimed up to 10,000 lives in the past decade. But often the political tone of the conflict has been superficial at best, with struggles over housing, taxi services and marijuana turning into inter-party rivalry. Chief Buthelezi's decision this week to contest the elections was not expected to dampen that type of violence.

Since Mr de Klerk, under strong pressure from the ANC, declared a state of emergency in Natal and the KwaZulu 'homeland' it surrounds on 31 March, nearly 300 people have died in political violence. Despite the presence of the South African Defence Force, fear will be a common feature of the election.

It is unlikely to disappear in one week, especially since voter education was just beginning in many areas just days before the election. Many people in the townships and the rural areas have been told by their local chiefs and headmen that the indelible ink to be used in the election is in fact a magic potion to reveal whom they voted for.

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising

Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past