Pundits Doubt Ramaphosa Can Curb Corruption After Elections in South Africa

© Sputnik / Алексей Никольский / Go to the photo bankSouth African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a BRICS group of country meeting in July 2018. File photo.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a BRICS group of country meeting in July 2018. File photo. - Sputnik International
The African National Congress (ANC) Party has emerged victorious in South Africa's elections and, with all the votes counted, the party is far in the lead, securing over 57.5 percent of the vote, but things are not the same for Nelson Mandela's former party that's been embroiled in a series of corruption scandals in recent years.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) got nearly 21 percent of the vote (20.77), while the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) managed to secure almost 11 percent (10.79), according to the country's Electoral Commission.

The party’s success in Wednesday's vote means that ANC leader and incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa will stay in office for another five years, but for the party that's ruled South Africa since 1994, it is its worst performance ever recorded. The ANC had not previously won less than 60 percent of the vote in a general election.

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The outcome was expected. Analysts predicted that the ANC would win the election, however, its margin of victory was expected to be lower than in previous campaigns. Cheryl Hendricks, executive director of the Africa Institute of South Africa in the HSRC, said that “we have seen a steady decline in the vote with each election”.

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Hendricks also noted that the election was a vote on Cyril Ramaphosa rather than the party itself. “It is about if South Africans see his reform agenda as the way to go or if they want a more radical agenda in the form of EFF or if they want the DA liberal agenda. The impact of Cyril is great because he needs big support in order to deal with the factionalism in his party”.

Ramaphosa took leadership of the ANC in 2017 and then claimed the presidency in February 2018 when scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma was forced out.

The South African scholar told Sputnik that the main issues the country is facing today are “corruption, unemployment, crime and murder, and gender-based violence, a divided society and one desperately in need of decisive ethical leadership”, and Ramaphosa needs to help the ANC redeem itself and “clean house”.

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“They need to curb corruption and patronage politics, restore the functionality and integrity of our state institutions, invest in a decent education, deal decisively with xenophobia and regain our legitimacy and moral stature in the international world. They have to provide a new vision for this country and for Africa as a whole”, Hendricks said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to crack down on corruption in the party and in the country, but the situation is dire. South Africa has been named the most economically unequal country in the world by the World Bank and has a national unemployment rate of 27 percent.

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Under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, who was embroiled in corruption, money laundering, and racketeering scandals, the ANC saw a sharp decline in popularity and some experts doubt whether Ramaphosa has enough power to turn things around.

Roger Southall, professor of sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, told Sputnik that it's still not clear if Ramaphosa will be able to reform and restructure the economy as he will face opposition from within the ANC.

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“Some say his hands will be tied because of the strength of the Zuma faction in the party; others respond that because he is far more popular than the ANC itself, the ANC will have to follow his lead. We are simply going to have to wait our time as to the outcome. Let's see the new cabinet; whether it is smaller leading to more streamlined government. I suspect he will place 'reformers' in key positions (the Treasury, economic ministries, and public enterprises), and let them have their head. If he looks to be rendering the state more efficient, cutting down on corruption and seems earnest about 'delivery', he will keep his popularity, at least initially. Key to his survival will be whether he can face town resistance from the followers of former president Zuma and vested interest in business and labor circles”, the professor concluded.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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