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

Financial Mail - - FEATURE -

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

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