The rival African National Congress (ANC) won control of governing councils in the province's largest cities, including Durban. With 44 per cent of the more than 3 million registered voters casting ballots, Inkatha received 44.5 per cent of the vote compared to 33.2 per cent for the ANC.
Both sides claimed victory, with Inkatha saying it had proved itself the strongest party in KwaZulu-Natal while the ANC said it had won administrative control of the province's largest budgets.
In the nation's first all-race election in 1994, Inkatha won just over half the KwaZulu-Natal vote to gain control of the provincial government.
The local elections completed the transformation of South Africa to a democratic government. Most of the rest of the country held their local government voting last November, but political wrangling and violence twice delayed the KwaZulu-Natal elections.
Inkatha won 74 per cent of rural council seats compared to 21 per cent for the ANC, while the ANC won almost 33 per cent of urban council seats to just under 19 per cent for Inkatha. In Durban, the ANC won half the city council seats while Inkatha gained just under 8 per cent.