CYRIL IN THE MIDDLE
As fire and fury grips Mahikeng in North West and Zuma supporters shake Kwazulu-natal, Ramaphosa must somehow act against dissent in his divided party without damaging the ANC’S electoral prospects
but he is likely to prove difficult to dislodge immediately.
The challenge for Ramaphosa, then, is how to navigate the political situation in the province while ensuring that the ANC does not bleed further in the 2019 polls.
The province has traditionally been a stronghold for the ANC, but support has slipped steadily from its 2009 highs.
In the 2009 election the ANC received 73.8% in the North West — markedly higher than the party’s national support, which stood at 65.9%.
This performance was pretty much mirrored in the 2011 local election, in which the ANC received 74.9% in the North West.
The slide to 67% in the province in the 2014 election was dramatic.
But it did not stop there. In the 2016 local government election, the ANC in the province obtained an overall tally of 59% — a below the psychological barrier of 60% — to win a 55.6% share of national support — in the 2016 election.
With the divisions in KZN and the crisis in North West, it is clear that Ramaphosa’s biggest opponent in the upcoming polls is his own party.
The Zuma group — those opposed to Ramaphosa’s leadership — have repeatedly placed their own agenda above that of the party. They will have little interest in resolving the deep issues to bolster the ANC at the polls. In fact, it would be in their interests to see the party’s support further eroded, to advance their agenda of removing Ramaphosa before his term is up.
There are already rumblings in this group for a national general council to be called to push for an early elective conference to remove him.
Aside from the challenges of governing a country nearly torn apart by nine years of mismanagement and allegations of corruption and state capture, Ramaphosa also faces an uphill battle against the deeply factional party over which he now presides.
What it means: The challenge for Ramaphosa is to contain problems in troublesome provinces without weakening the ANC as a whole