A host of municipal by-elections will be taking place countrywide on Wednesday, November 11, but in KwaZulu-Natal – where politics and violence are too frequently linked – there is only one ward battle that currently matters.
Additional reporting by Lwazi Hlangu.
Mtubatuba Local Municipality, on the far north coast, is currently governed via a peculiar coalition between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress.
Peculiar because the ANC and IFP have a long, complicated and violent history. They are also the two largest parties in the municipal council, with the IFP holding 19 and the ANC 17 of the 40 available seats.
They are the only two parties to have governed the municipality since 2000, with the current coalition linked to a coalition agreement in the City of Johannesburg.
In 2016, the IFP had a co-governance agreement with the Democratic Alliance, which holds two seats in Mtuba, as the town is referred to by locals. In turn, the IFP supported the DA in Johannesburg. But the IFP reneged on that deal in 2019, allowing for the ANC’s Geoff Makhubo to be elected Johannesburg mayor.
The relationship has been a strained one. As recently as October, ANC councillors in…