African business, politics and lifestyle
Zuma sweeps in
It was South Africa’s most exciting election campaign for a long time, enlivened by the split in the African National Congress and the personality of Jacob Zuma, the man who is now pretty much assured of becoming president despite the best efforts of plenty of people within his party as well as the opposition.
So far, the results don’t look too different from the pre-poll forecasts. An ANC victory was never in doubt and the battle was as much as anything about whether the party could keep its two-thirds majority in parliament, which lets it change the constitution and further entrench its power. That was still in doubt after early figures.
There was not much good news for the Congress of the People (COPE), formed by loyalists of ousted former President Thabo Mbeki. With only about eight percent of the vote so far, the question may be as much whether it survives as whether it can supplant the Democratic Alliance as the main opposition.
The DA seemed to have done fairly well with its “Stop Zuma” campaign, at least in its Western Cape stronghold, but there was no sign of it making inroads among the black majority.
Whatever losses the ANC had made to COPE and the DA, it seemed to have made some of them up in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s Zulu heartland, where it battered the once locally dominant Inkatha Freedom Party.
It certainly looks as though Zuma’s support was not affected by the fact the corruption charges against him were dismissed on a technicality rather than after a trial.
How well placed will he now be to deliver the change that many South Africans say they want on fighting crime, poverty, corruption and AIDS? Will COPE survive or might its supporters start to drift back to the ANC? Will the opposition ever really be able to challenge the ANC?
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