As South Africa's ruling party struggles to recover from a string of scandals and expand its monopoly on quarter-century power in next year's election, it has a key advantage: a wounded opposition.
By forcing the unpopular Jacob Zuma to step down as president in February, the ANC deprived the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom fighters of their largest electoral patrimony. The AD was also harassed by internal strife in its Cape Town stronghold while EFF is facing allegations that it has received illicitly diverted funds from a failed bank.
That has increased the chances that 66-year-old President Cyril Ramaphosa could win a strong enough mandate in May to strengthen his grip on the party and deliver on promises to crack down on corruption and revive a declining economy.
"In the current political context, many investors would probably consider a strong mandate for the ANC – in the 55-60% range – an optimum outcome," said Anne Fruhauf, vice president of the New York risk board Teneo. "The assumption is that this will help President Ramaphosa strengthen his mandate and political influence within the ANC and contain the influence of the FEP."
Research commissioned by Ipsos, the Racial Relations Institute and the ANC itself show that the party maintains its control over parliament, albeit below the 62% it won in 2016.
Corruption of Corruption
Just two years ago, the ANC appeared to be at risk of losing majority since the first multiracial 1994 elections, when its support dropped to a record low of 54 percent in 2016 municipal votes – a reaction against endemic corruption for nearly nine years of Zuma. rule of the year.
The DA secured control of several large cities, while the populist policies of the EFF reinforced its support among young and urban voters, disenchanted with unbridled poverty and a current unemployment rate of 27.5%, one of the highest in the world .
The ANC began to recover ground after Ramaphosa, a former union leader who helped negotiate the end of apartheid and led the drafting of the country's first democratic constitution, defeated Zuma's ex-wife and preferred successor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. party control in December.
Since assuming the presidency, Ramaphosa has fired several ministers and senior managers of state-owned companies involved in corruption, and has led a campaign to attract $ 100 billion in new investments.
But the 106-year-old ANC is not completely out of the woods. His leadership battle has caused deep and lasting divisions in his ranks, and Zuma's allies continue to occupy key positions in the cabinet and party, including Secretary-General Ace Magashule, limiting Ramaphosa's space to maneuver and restore public confidence.
"The cleanliness he is leading is not being taken lightly by ANC people who were benefiting from corruption," said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of South Africa in Pretoria. "They'd like to fight back."
Revelations that Ramaphosa's campaign for the ANC leadership received a donation from a company with ties to his son and he gave incorrect information about it to parliament also threaten to undermine his anti-corruption campaign and alienate voters.
While the president said that his mistake was inadvertent and that the money would be returned, the opposition called for a judicial investigation.
At the same time, the prosecutor was shaken by a slump between his national leadership and former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. She was forced to resign after being accused of interfering in a management appointment and blamed the city for obtaining a qualified audit report because two proposals were considered irregularly awarded.
De Lille, who denies any irregularities, now plans to start a new political party. This could cost the public prosecutor's support in the Western Cape, the only one of the nine provinces it controls, because De Lille remains popular, particularly among mestizo compatriots.
The EFF has been hit by reports that it and some of its top leaders have received millions of looted rand from the bankrupt VBS Mutual Bank. While the party says it has found no evidence of irregularities by its officials, law enforcement agencies and parliament are investigating the allegations.
"All major parties seem to be in a state of flux, they are suffering internal divisions and some damage to reputation," said Daryl Glaser, a policy professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. "There are no perfect choices. For those who like Ramaphosa, I think they'll wait and see and give him another chance. "
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