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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: CFR by John Campbell.]

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, worth over $20 million, is widely regarded as corrupt, a sexual predator, and a facilitator of “state capture” by his cronies, the Gupta brothers.

The economy is in the doldrums, and the Rand continues to lose value. Yet, as of now, the candidate likely to succeed him as African National Congress (ANC) party leader is his chosen successor, Nkosanza Dlamini Zuma. Her rival for the position is the powerful Cyril Ramaphosa, the current deputy president, worth an estimated $700 million, and an architect of the country’s transition to non-racial democracy. A brief review of the way both South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the ANC work is needed to explain how someone attached to the publicly toxic Jacob Zuma could be the front-runner to succeed him.

Jacob Zuma is both the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and the president of South Africa. At an upcoming December convention, the ANC will choose a new party leader. Not until 2019, however, will there actually be national elections, which will ultimately decide the new president. Under South Africa’s constitutional system of proportional representation, voters vote for a party, not a particular candidate. Behind the scenes and out of the public eye, parties rank-order their candidates. So, if a party wins thirty seats, then the first thirty names on the party’s rank-ordered list go into parliament. If a party wins a majority of votes, as the ANC always has since the end of apartheid, the first name on its list (usually party leader but not necessarily so) is elected president by the ANC majority in parliament.

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South Africa at a Glance
56 500 000 (mid 2017 estimate)
5.1% y/y in September 2017 (CPI) & +4.2% y/y in August 2017 (PPI)
2.5% q/q for the 2nd quarter of 2017
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