South Africa: Road to Local Elections - Jacob Zuma's Jail Sentence Could Spell Bad News for the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal

South African National Defence Force personnel in support of the South African Police Service in Alexandra, Gauteng Province on July 13, 2021.

The former president's fall from grace is expected to erode support for the ANC.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Under Jacob Zuma's leadership, the ANC saw significant growth in members and votes in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). What will happen now that he's in jail?

Although former president Zuma's legacy as ANC leader is defined by allegations of rampant corruption, the weakening of state institutions and entrenchment of party factionalism, he was a boon for the party's electoral chances in KZN.

In his first election as party president, the ANC won 66% of the provincial vote in KZN in 2009, up from almost 47% in 2004. The number of ANC members in the province grew from 102,000 at the 2007 ANC Polokwane conference to 331,000 ahead of the 2012 Mangaung conference. The country's second-most populated province became an ANC stronghold under Zuma's leadership and it propped up the party's national support while it declined in other provinces.

This week the former president started his 15-month prison sentence for ignoring a Constitutional Court order to testify at the Zondo Commission. Zuma and his political allies have misleadingly claimed that the judgment mirrors those under the apartheid system and that...

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