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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: New Statesman America by Martin Plaut.]

like a stagecoach in an old Western, South Africa tottered on the edge of a precipice before being dragged back – but only just. The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the African National Congress just over a year ago was by the narrowest of margins. He defeated his rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former wife of President Zuma, by 2,440 votes to 2,261. There was an almost audible sigh of relief. Dr Dlamini-Zuma was widely regarded as being a proxy for her one-time husband; a shield against the hundreds of charges of corruption against him, which are still to be heard in court.

It is difficult to convey just how close to the edge the country came. An agreement struck between President Zuma and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in 2014 would have seen eight nuclear power plants built at a cost of one trillion Rand, ($76bn). It was a sum that the country could not afford. So desperate was Zuma to force the deal through that he sacrificed one minister after another, as each looked at the cost and refused to give it their approval. What took place is now the subject of a Commission of Inquiry.

President Ramaphosa has called elections for next year. They will be held before the end of May, although the exact date has still to be announced. At present the prospects for the ruling ANC look pretty good. The latest polling suggests they would receive more than half of the votes (56 per cent).

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.4% y/y in April 2019 (CPI) & +6.5 y/y in April 2019 (PPI)
-3.2% q/q (1st quarter of 2019)
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