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South Africa: The Rise of Ramaphosa

South Africa: The Rise of Ramaphosa
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) of BRICS member South Africa chose its next party leader in advance of the 2019 elections, though Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's selection occurred after a controversial court intervention is thought to have narrowly thrown the election to his favor.

Three provincial courts ruled right before the party's national conference began that dozens of delegates were disqualified from attending because their elections were illegal, and the timing of this last-minute decision made some people think that it was designed to work against the interests of Rampaphosa's rival, President Jacob Zuma's ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whom the banned representatives reportedly backed.

The thin margin of victory that Ramaphosa eventually received of less than 200 votes adds credence to the speculation that the outcome might have been different had the courts not intervened. At the same time, however, Ramaphosa's supporters say that the ruling preserved the integrity of the elections, because the legitimacy of Dlamini-Zuma's possible victory would have been thrown into doubt had the courts made their decision afterwards and found that her delegates were ineligible to participate in the first place. There are others, however, who say that no court case should have been commenced against the delegates in the first place, further muddying the waters and adding a touch of conspiracy to the conference's outcome.

Despite the controversy, the end result is that Ramaphosa is now the head of the ANC, thus giving him an opportunity to reinvent the party according to his vision. The Deputy President has presented himself as an anti-corruption crusader who will clean house and revitalize the economy with his pro-business acumen, which has earned him loud applause from international investors and financiers. He plans to take the country in a dramatically different direction than Dlamini-Zuma had promised; since she said she'd continue her ex-husband's left-leaning legacy while Ramaphosa is getting ready to reform it just like how some of his right-wing counterparts are doing throughout the former socialist states that they recently came to power in.  

Ramaphosa's leadership of the ANC is an important topic to discuss because of the international implications that it could have for South Africa's BRICS membership if he succeeds in coming to power, whether as a result of the 2019 elections or possibly even beforehand in the event that President Zuma is deposed by one of his many and seemingly never-ending scandals.

Kwanele Mkheswa, political commentator from Nkayi, based in Johannesburg stopped by to share his views.

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