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South Africa's divided opposition boosts the ANC

Newly re-elected president of the African National Congress

Newly re-elected president of the African National Congress

REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham
For three decades, the African National Congress has dominated South Africa’s post-apartheid political system, though some within the ANC feared the personal feud between President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Jacob Zuma might finally cost the party an election. But with the approach of elections, probably in May, it’s once again the opposition that appears to be fragmenting.

The Democratic Alliance, the country’s largest opposition bloc, has formed alliances with smaller parties. But many black South Africans continue to see the DA as a white-dominated party, though the party leadership is much more multi-racial than a decade ago. More importantly, new opposition candidates continue to emerge to lead new parties that remain outside the “charter” meant to unify challengers to push the ANC from power.

South Africa’s high unemployment, weak economy, and crumbling infrastructure have created voter demand for an ANC alternative. But until a single standard-bearer can win a clear majority of the anti-ANC vote, single-party rule looks likely to continue. That’s good political news for Ramaphosa, but the country’s chronic economic problems are likely to continue.


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