06 Mar

Zuma’s Exit Sparks Shifting Political Alliances in South Africa

Jacob Zuma’s forced resignation as South Africa’s president did more than revive confidence in the ruling African National Congress. It’s deepened divisions between the two main opposition parties, threatening their control of the nation’s key cities.

Together with the ANC’s shift to support expropriation of land without compensation, Zuma’s replacement by Cyril Ramaphosa has thawed its relations with the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The party hounded Zuma over allegations of graft and advocates the seizure of white-owned farms, banks and mines.

That’s increasingly isolated the Democratic Alliance, the second-largest party which took power in Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, in a municipal vote in 2016 by forming a loose coalition with EFF.

As that arrangement frays, its chances of pushing the ANC below 50 percent of the vote in general elections next year are fading.

“The ANC and EFF will probably contest the 2019 national elections separately to maximize their share of the total vote, but are then likely to join up in some or other new format,” said Frans Cronje, chief executive officer of the South African Institute of Race Relations. “The EFF will hand the cities back to the ANC in exchange for senior leadership roles.”

That would mark a dramatic change in the political landscape. The EFF was founded in 2013 by former ANC youth wing leader, Julius Malema after the ruling party expelled him for criticizing Zuma and sowing divisions within its ranks. It won 6 percent of the national vote in the last national elections in 2014.

He and his fellow lawmakers, who wear red berets, coveralls and maid’s uniforms in parliament, have been a thorn in the side of the ANC as they castigated Zuma for a succession of scandals and pressed the government to ensure that the black majority received a greater shape of the nation’s wealth.

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