Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Inkatha Poised to Win Provincial Elections

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Inkatha Poised to Win Provincial Elections

Article excerpt

THE Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which entered the country's first all-race election a week before the ballot, appears headed for a narrow victory in strife-torn KwaZulu/Natal Province.

This is the view of Western diplomats and election monitors in the province.

A surprise win for Inkatha in Natal is seen in political and diplomatic circles as the best outcome. "I think this would be the best result for stability in the province," says Natal University political scientist Mervyn Frost. "The IFP's honor would have been restored, but the ANC-led central government would still call the shots through its control of the purse strings."

The final result will be known only today - 10 days after voters first went to the polls.

With 50 percent of votes counted in KwaZulu/Natal yesterday, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha had 57 percent of the vote and a commanding lead over the African National Congress (ANC), which had 28 percent. The ruling National Party (NP) held about 13 percent.

But last-minute wrangling over the count in the northern town of Empangeni forced the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to hold back results in the province - the scene of a 10-year civil war between Zulu supporters of the ANC and Inkatha.

Western diplomats predict Inkatha will achieve a narrow outright majority of between 50 and 52 percent, with the ANC winning about 35 percent of the vote, the NP 11 percent, the liberal Democratic Party 1 percent, and several smaller parties 1 percent.

The ANC, poised to take over the government on May 10, has won a clear majority of the national vote (64.9 percent), but it is not yet clear whether it will achieve the two-thirds majority (66.7 percent) that would enable an ANC-led government to draft the final constitution. The NP has 20.5 percent.

The credibility of a close result in the province and the ANC attainment or loss of a two-thirds majority are likely to be in question because of administrative bungling, computer fraud, electoral fraud, and political horse-trading between the ANC and IFP in Natal. …

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