The Party of Mandela Is at Odds With Itself
Scandal ▶ South Africa’s president is under pressure for alleged graft ▶ “This is the most difficult situation ... in the last 20 years”
As if his country’s 25 percent unemployment rate, stagnant economy, and deteriorating credit rating weren’t bad enough, South African President Jacob Zuma faces a political graft scandal that threatens to wreck the party of Nelson Mandela. With more than 60 percent of the vote in every parliamentary election since 1994, the African National Congress remains the top political power in South Africa. Yet internal divisions are pitting the forces of fiscal discipline, represented by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, against the pro-zuma camp, which has less regard for investors and financial markets.
Over the past few years, Zuma has drawn fire over the slow pace of government reform and a mounting number of scandals and missteps, including the appointment of an inexperienced
at the end of next year, but the past three months have left him considerably weakened.
Zuma has proven to be a survivor. During the struggle against apartheid, he was the ANC’S intelligence head and spent a decade imprisoned on Robben Island with Mandela. He has since weathered corruption charges and was acquitted in a rape trial. This is the most pressure he’s been under in his nine years as party leader and his seven years as the nation’s president.
Tough months lie ahead. The ANC may lose control of a couple of cities in local elections. South Africa’s highest court is ruling on whether Zuma violated the constitution by ignoring directions from an anti-graft ombudsman to pay back state funds put toward an upgrade to his home. A credit-rating downgrade could come as early as June. �Franz Wild
The bottom line A political scandal in South Africa is adding to the country’s economic problems, as low commodity prices hit the mining industry.
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Three days before its March 25 opening, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was met with some harsh early reviews. The critics weren’t kind to the Caped Crusader (Ben Affleck), the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill), or director Zack Snyder. One saved his venom for an unseen villain, the studio that made the film, Warner Bros. The movie is “a sleek, stylish commercial by a studio desperate to birth a new cash cow post- Harry Potter,” wrote the Miami Herald’s film critic.
For Warner, more is riding on the movie than on any other single release this year. It’s important not only for the money it could pull in, but also because it could be a steppingstone to cultivate a dedicated audience for future films from its DC Comics franchise. “Success is giving the fans an experience that’s so enjoyable and entertaining for them that we deepen their commitment to DC as a whole, and so the movies keep growing,’’ says Greg Silverman, a co-head of Warner’s film studio.
The studio estimates the film’s opening-weekend box-office receipts will bring in $100 million to $140 million domestically and an additional $200 million from 61 other countries. Analysts at Boxoffice.com on March 23 raised their forecast for the weekend to $179 million, from $159 million five days before, because of strong presales, despite the reviews. Those numbers—some analysts predict even bigger returns—could help Warner shake off its 2015 movie losses. Among its notable flops last year was Pan, a retelling of the Peter Pan fairy tale, which analysts estimate generated more than $100 million in red ink, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
For Batman v Superman to be as profitable as Walt Disney’s Marvel movies or Warner’s own Dark Knight Batman movies, which had an average profit margin of 44 percent, it would have to gross $1.15 billion worldwide at the box office, assuming production and global marketing costs of about $400 million, estimates Wade Holden, an analyst at SNL Kagan. That compares with a global gross of $1.5 billion for Disney’s first Avengers movie and $668 million for the Superman origin story Man of Steel.
“This is a big roll of the dice,” says Jonathan Kuntz, a film historian who teaches at the University of California at Los Angeles. Success could lead to a whole world of spinoffs and sequels;
2015 domestic box-office market share by studio 22% Universal 22% Other 20% Disney 9% Sony
In 2009 it was 14% Warner Bros.
13% 20th Century Fox