As I said yesterday, the African National Congress party (ANC) held its leadership elections yesterday, the chief candidates being former socialist / trade unionist Cyril Ramaphosa and ex-wife of current SAPres, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, rabid African Nationalist and so on (whom I predicted would win in a walk, she being the worst possible choice for ANC leader, and this being Africa).
In keeping with most of my political predictions (i.e. total crap), I was wrong about this one, and Ramaphosa won, albeit by only 179 votes out of many thousands cast. His victory was greeted with sighs of relief by the SA business community and most financial institutions (e.g. Moody’s, who are considering upgrading Seffrica’s rating from Not-Quite-Venezuela to Better-Than-Zimbabwe). Even the trade unions seem to be okay with the result, Ramaphosa being one of their erstwhile heroes.
This is South Africa, so things are seldom that simple. You see, one of the ANC’s platform planks is that lovely euphemism, “expropriation” — which, in this case, means “taking land away from Whites to give to Blacks”. A large number of ANC supporters and officials support this policy, and many are complaining that Ramaphosa will ally himself with the “big business interests” (Whites) and not carry out the expropriations. White land- and business owners are hoping he’ll end, or at least severely curb the policy — and given the implications, he should.
But the ANC also has to make sure that they maintain their hold on power, and in the next general election in 2019, they’ll have to fend off a party of rabid assholes called the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who, according to their electoral rhetoric would not only take Whites’ property away, but their lives as well if resistance were offered. Needless to say, this policy would sit quite well with their philosophical comrades inside the ANC, who have been quite content to ignore (and even tacitly approve of) the ongoing slaughter of White farmers in rural areas.
So when the time comes to take the place of current SAPres Jacob Zuma, Comrade Cyril is going to have to walk that little tightrope very carefully: accommodate the business community and bring investment back into South Africa, and try not to alienate the land-thieves inside the ANC.
And by the way, that’s only one of the problems facing Ramaphosa. Another one is that Zuma might not want to go quietly into that long (albeit well-financed, bribe-fed) dark night of retirement — in fact, he’s kinda acting that way right now. (In the rest of Africa, Zuma would simply be assassinated, but this is the kinder, gentler South Africa now.)
The next few months are going to be interesting, in an African kind of way.
Oh, and one last thing. I’ve said several unpleasant things about Dlamini-Zuma, the loser in the current leadership contest. But credit where credit is due: despite the slenderness of her defeat, she’s not behaving like certain (all?) Democrats we know, and is not going to the courts to challenge the results of the election. Granted, the courts have repeatedly signaled that the ANC has to fix its own problems, but still. Party unity seems to be of paramount concern for the ANC, and it should be: the last general election gave them a very slender margin of victory (from memory, 54%). Anything less than 50% would force them to create a coalition government with one or more of the smaller political parties in South Africa — and man, an alliance with some of those (e.g. the rabid EFF above) would mean economic disaster for the country. To some, economic disaster in this still-capitalist country would be a feature, not a bug (as it is with their philosophical allies Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, Maduro in Venezuela, and Bernie Sanders in the U.S.). But I’m pretty sure the ANC does not want to see “Venezuela” happen south of the Limpopo River, and that may be the only thing that saves the country.
My cynicism in matters African, however, tells me that I’m an idiot for thinking that way.