ANC supporters. Picture: REUTERS
ANC supporters. Picture: REUTERS

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal was crowing on Thursday morning as the party retained control of a hotly contested ward in Phongolo.

Ward 7 in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town was up for grabs in a by-election on Wednesday.

While it was an ANC ward‚ given the IFP’s victory in Nquthu just a few weeks ago‚ it was an important battleground as the rival parties fight for control in Zululand.

Early figures indicate that the ANC won 834 votes‚ just 95 more than the IFP‚ which won 739.

The National Freedom Party (NFP) got 368 votes while the EFF — which has battled to make significant inroads in rural KwaZulu-Natal — got just 38 votes.

Ward 7 became vacant in December‚ when councillor Mbhekiseni "Pat" Khumalo was shot dead at his house by assassins pretending to be residents in need of assistance.

Taking to Facebook shortly before midnight on Wednesday‚ ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said: "Let resign to my bed now that the ANC registered a resounding victory in Phongolo by-elections. Long live the African National Congress!!!"

The win was important not just because it showed a rural rebound in the wake of Nquthu‚ but also because it ensured the ANC retained control of the municipality.

Had the IFP won‚ a coalition might have been enough to wrestle control away from the ANC.

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