South African leader, Cyril Rhamaphosa, sworn into office Saturday, May 25, is counting himself a lucky man after leading the embattled African National Congress (ANC) party to a majority win in the May 8 General Elections.
The ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, continues to face allegations of corruption that plagued the party for many years and especially under the leadership of former president Jacob Zuma. These allegations, analysts say, account for why the party’s win was narrow, 57% compared to the previous election in 2014 when the party saw a larger majority of 62%.
Analysts maintain that if it was not for Rhamaphosa, the ANC lead would have been much smaller, below 40%, some analysts estimate.
Mix Reviews of Election Results
The Guadian’s Jason Burke writes: “Ramaphosa’s inauguration followed the ruling African National Congress party’s 57.5% victory in this month’s election. Though this was the ANC’s weakest showing at the ballot box since taking power at elections in 1994 at the end of the repressive, racist apartheid regime, supporters said it vindicated Ramaphosa’s leadership.”
While he is seen as a fresh face, someone to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor who did not attend the inauguration ceremony, Rhamaphosa is seen as a saving face for the ruling ANC.
Burke notes, “Many voters have been alienated by repeated corruption scandals during the administration of the former president, Jacob Zuma, who was ousted by Ramaphosa last year.”
Meanwhile, Klaus Kotze of the Global Risk Insights hails the elections as a success for South Africa against a backdrop of declining democratic norms around the world.
Noting rather cautiously that South Africa bucked the international trend towards populism and that the fringe failed to factor, Kotze writes:
“While democracies around the world have moved to the fringes, South Africa appears to be maturing towards the middle. Though the centre-left ANC and centre-right DA shed the same number of seats gained by the leftwing EFF and rightwing Freedom Front Plus (FF+), 19 and five respectively, the threat of further splintering to an array of radical fringe parties did not materialize. None of these parties, including Black First, Land First which rejects white membership, and the National Front which advances a white secessionist state, achieved traction among the electorate. Neither received a singular seat in Parliament.”
The writer attributes the success of the ANC to leader Ramaphosa who is said to be a clean break from Zuma and the past troubles of the party.
“While the ANC achieved its worst electoral result since 1994, shedding 5% from its 2014 showing, it nevertheless maintained its outright majority. It also maintained all the provinces where it governed previously. The ANC’s powerful mandate is largely thanks to President Ramaphosa’s clean image and his commitment to reform. Ramaphosa, whose popularity exceeds that of his party, replaced Zuma in a narrow victory at the party’s elective conference in late 2017.”