As we head to the 2019 national elections and South Africans breathe a sigh of relief over a win for Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president, it is a shallow victory given the rest of the top six leadership.
He stole the position from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but the rest of the results only show the factional battles in the ANC.
“A win is a win – but this was the tightest of all possible wins. Ultimately, it is a fairly weak mandate for Ramaphosa, especially given the fact that both Ace Magashule and David Mabuza have been elected to senior positions in the top six,” political analyst Daniel Silke said.
“This is not the victory that Ramaphosa would have liked. And I think it perpetuates the factional differences that exist across the country for the ANC.”
This is given the fact that the Dlamini-Zuma camp had “certainly retained, while not a critical mass, a strong presence in the national executive committee”.
“It ultimately will keep that faction of the ANC in a position of strength and in a position to potentially counter Ramaphosa should he stray from their own philosophy to a great degree. It is a less than ideal victory for Ramaphosa,” added Silke. “The difficulty really will come with the crucial aspects Ramphosa faces.”
This includes restoring integrity in government and creating economic policy that works for the country.
“These issues are going to continue being extremely difficult for the ANC to find clarity on. Ramaphosa has got the job, ally aren’t any clear winners other than that.”
Chief investment officer George Herman, director of Citadel Investment Services, said while Ramaphosa’s victory already proved positive, there is still a long way to go in regaining business confidence and revitalising South Africa’s faltering economy.
“Ramaphosa has a small window of opportunity akin to the famous ‘100 days’ [for newly-elected US presidents] to prove that he is the catalyst for change needed in government,” he said.
“If he stumbles at any time during this embryonic period, he’ll be seen as a token rather than the strong leader needed and market sentiment will quickly turn against South Africa.”
Ramaphosa’s key challenge as ANC president will therefore be to deliver economic policy certainty in order to regain investor confidence, added Herman.
On President Jacob Zuma’s future, Silke said, “whoever would have won, would have wanted to see him retire as soon as possible”.
“Ramaphosa would probably want to deliver the State of the Nation address (Sona) next year,” he said.
“This is not withstanding the fact that you have Nkosazana’s people in the top six. I think the pressure will still be on for Zuma to retire at a relatively early opportunity.”
The question. however. remains on whether a safe exit strategy for Zuma can be engineered before the Sona. The late Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela welcomed the result by congratulating the top six.
However, he pointed out that a mammoth task lies ahead for them in uniting the ANC and restoring its standing “in the eyes of the electorate” come 2019.
“President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s famous quote, ‘and I smiled because every day South Africans are building a new dawn’, is very apt today,” he said.
“This newly-elected leadership has an opportunity to restore faith in the movement … upon its shoulders rests the task of leading South Africa.” – yadhanaj@citizen,co.za