21 Dec

Ramaphosa Has Unsteady Grip on South Africa’s Ruling ANC

Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly elected leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, has a tenuous hold on power in the party after his allies fell short of securing outright control over its top leadership body.

A lack of support from a clear majority of the 86 voting members of the ANC’s National Executive Committee will limit his scope to drive policy changes and assert his authority over President Jacob Zuma, whose second term as the nation’s leader ends in 2019. The NEC is the ANC’s highest decision-making body in between its five-yearly national conferences.

The faction led by the candidate he beat in the presidential race, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, probably has the loyalty of about 45 of the 86 NEC’s voting members, said Xolani Dube, a political analyst at the Xubera Institute for Research and Development in the port city of Durban.

“Cyril is a very compromised president,” Dube said Thursday by phone. “He is not running the administration of the ANC. He has got a serious problem.”

Ramaphosa’s Constraints

The executive committee’s composition will constrain Ramaphosa’s ability to focus the government’s agenda on promoting economic growth, creating jobs and cracking down on corruption. His victory over Dlamini-Zuma for the presidency was by the smallest margin since the ANC came to power in 1994, and only two of the other top-five party officials elected with him are considered certain allies.

The rand weakened as much as 0.5 percent before trading little changed at 12.7142 per dollar by 11:28 a.m. in Johannesburg, bringing its gain since before the start of the ANC conference to 6.2 percent.

In his first speech as ANC president in the early hours of Thursday, Ramaphosa pledged a crack down on graft, which has become increasingly rife during Zuma’s almost nine-year administration.

“Corruption has to come to a stop and it must happen with immediate effect,” Ramaphosa said. “We must confront the reality that critical institutions of our state have been targeted by individuals and families.”

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