Editor's note: Cyril Ramaphosa has the power to return the ANC to its former glory or see it decline further and eventually risk becoming a minority party hamstrung by a history of corruption and cronyism. Briefly.co.za editor, Stefan Mack, examines how Ramaphosa's handling of the transition of power could help the ANC win or lose the next election.
The manner in which Cyril Ramaphosa navigates South Africa out of it current political quagmire will determine how much control he has over the ANC and its future. The longer the power struggle between himself and Zuma continues the more credibility, authority and power he risks losing. The longer Zuma remains in office the slimmer the chance is of the ANC winning the next election.
A compromised leader
Jacob Zuma refused to resign last Sunday and has begun negotiations to allow for a transition of power. These negotiations have been rumoured to centre around two things, his legal woes and security for himself and his family.
Ramaphosa rubbished reports that Zuma would be given immunity but what has not been dismissed is how Zuma will handle his legal fees when he steps down. Zuma faces the real prospect of being charged with over 70 counts of corruption, fraud and racketeering.
The Zondo Commission of inquiry will also be focusing on Zuma and his involvement in state capture. Allegations have been levelled against the president of his involvement in a scheme to defraud the state of millions and possibly even billions of rands which he has denied.
A declining party
The ANC's fortunes have waned since Zuma assumed the mantle of the party and state president. A scandal after scandal dogged the leader the ANC began to see evidence of the public withdrawing support. In 2016 the party was shocked as it lost major metropolitan areas to the opposition, something which was unimaginable a few years prior.
If Ramaphosa doesn't wrestle control of the country from Zuma the ANC might risk losing more than a metropolitan but entire provinces or even the country itself.
Zuma on his own
After failing to win the ANC presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lost her chance at shielding her former husband from prosecution or allowing him to influence state policy. This has left Zuma vulnerable to prosecution and with immunity off the table his last hope is either to be declared innocent by the courts or receive a presidential pardon.
The only problem with receiving a pardon is that a person needs to be convicted first, this means Zuma must face a court and the risk embarrassment of being exposed as a criminal and a thief.
A divided party and a divided country
The ANC elective conference failed to unite the party and left it fragmented with a 50/50 split in support for Zuma and Ramaphosa. If Zuma resigns, he might quit the ANC and form a new party or his supporters might splinter off from the mother party.
Either way, the ANC will be weaker for it and would most certainly fail to win a majority in 2019.
KwaZulu-Natal has been a potential hotbed for violence which is especially true today as Zuma has hinted that KZN might erupt into violence if he is removed from power. There is an ethnic bond between the Zulus in the province and Zuma which must not be underestimated.
A lot to lose and a lot to gain
Ramaphosa must go for broke and stamp his seal of authority on the ANC. He needs to do this to unify the party and remove Zuma from power. Both of which would give the ANC a fighting chance of winning the 2019 general elections and possibly even securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za
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