11 Dec

Threat of Split Looms as South Africa’s ANC Picks New Leader

As delegates from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress gather this week to pick a new leader to succeed President Jacob Zuma, they face a challenge that’s threatening to overshadow the contest: to stop the party from splitting.

The likelihood of a breakup is probably the biggest in the ANC’s 105-year-old history, especially if Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the president’s ex-wife and favored contestant, beats his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, in the vote for party leader, according to analysts. The winner will also be the ANC’s presidential candidate in national elections in 2019.

While both candidates have called for the ANC to remain united after the Dec. 16-20 conference, they differ on what needs to be done to halt the slide in its support. Ramaphosa, 65, one of the wealthiest black South Africans, has pledged to revive the struggling economy and stamp out corruption, while former African Union Commission Chairwoman Dlamini-Zuma, 68, has echoed Zuma’s calls for “radical economic transformation” to place more wealth in the hands of the black majority.

“If a split were to happen, it would be led by people who support Ramaphosa in the event that he loses the ANC conference because their camp would have a better chance of winning over voters,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of Pretoria’s Center of Governance Innovation. “It would be inconceivable for Ramaphosa to unite behind the vision of the people who are backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.”

Dipping Support

With support for the ANC having already dipped to a record low in last year’s municipal elections, when it lost control of Pretoria, the capital, and the economic hub of Johannesburg, a breakaway could cost the party the outright majority it’s held since Nelson Mandela led it to power in 1994. The leadership race has been marred by violence, lawsuits and allegations of bribery, and the announcement of the winner is unlikely to end the acrimony between the rival factions.

To read the full article, click here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *