NEVER before in ANC history have the stakes been so high. Two factions vying for control of the 105-year-old party. In the one corner, black businessman Cyril Ramaphosa. In the other corner, traditionalist Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The sophisticated son of Soweto beat the former wife of the past ANC president, Jacob Zuma by a margin that many critics will put down to a mere 200 vote handicap.
The drama of recounts and missing votes have dogged the line-up of the final six top posts in the party. As have the various policy inputs that make for a grab-bag of socialist rhetoric and market intervention strategies.
Given the enormous differences in approach to policy, the problem of Radical Economic Moonshine, the NASREC conference risked ending up in a major split and the result, a sign of things to come in the 2019 general elections.
What is clear though, is that unity has prevailed and while ordinary members have rejected the cronyism of the Zuma era, the Ramaphosa victory has left a lot of women angry with the implications of patriarchy and big business. Sunday Independent had NDZ for next president, while many who bet on the Ramaphosa ticket will have been rewarded — sportsbetting sites gave the odds Ramaphosa 3/4 and Dlamini-Zuma 11/5.
The SABC had called the race as early as 4pm yesterday before recanting due to a recount. The result was a dual narrative online as twitter users went in different directions, and nerves played out. “It’s a boy”, yelled many on social media when victory was final, and televised pictures of exuberant Ramaphosa supporters brought a sense of the gravitas of the moment into the streets.
That David Mabuza is now the deputy president will mean that the ANC is effectively a succession of male leadership and the developmental state, a focus on capital instead of land, with women’s representation in party structures at an all-time low, and radicals unhappy with redistribution moonshine*. Lindiwe Sisulu failed in her bid for Deputy and one can only hope this is not the last of her.
The Ramaphosa factor and its influence on the Rand brought a festive rally and the stability it will bring to currency markets going forward, means that South Africa will get a reprieve from a series of downgrades and inflationary measures affected by the previous administration whose grip on the treasury, a litany of corruption scandals, and failure to act over SOEs has resulted in a crisis of economic confidence.
Can Cyril fix the ship of state before it goes down with its crew? Will there be prosecutions following the various inquiries into state capture?
Only time can tell.
Congratulations to our new President.
[Note: Moonshine is a metaphor for homebrewed alcohol, and many will probably rather turn to a bottle of Johnny Walker and tried and tested economic policies while celebrating, than the home still kit]