Foreign Policy Blogs

Zuma Wins, Ramaphosa Looms Over His Shoulder

Cyril Ramaphoa and Jacob Zuma -- Reuters

So, Jacob Zuma was rather easily elected to continue on as ANC President, and therefore to represent the ANC as the party’s presidential choice in the 2014 elections. We can debate whether this is a good or bad idea. But barring unforeseen circumstances (and let’s face it — Zuma is not the poster child for probity, so things could change) Zuma will lead South Africa through 2019. Zuma won 2,986 votes out of the 3,977 cast so his legitimacy will not be an issue. But party loyalty, and party discipline, will not quite shake the more general sense that Zuma won because of that party loyalty rather than because of anything particular to his strengths.

More interesting, perhaps, is that Zuma’s new Deputy President is Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa, a vital figure in the CODESA negotiating process that led to the transformation from Apartheid, has long been identified as a political savior in South Africa. Now that the successful businessman has re-entered the political arena it is quite clear that he will be the favorite for the top spot in the country’s politics in 2019, if not sooner, depending upon Zuma’s ability to satisfy a country that, this week’s votes not withstanding, seems to have settled for rather than anointed him. And given Zuma’s record, do not be surprised if the rank and file are not clamoring for Ramaphosa long before 2019.



Derek Catsam

Derek Catsam is a Professor of history and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan Professor in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He is also Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University. Derek writes about race and politics in the United States and Africa, sports, and terrorism. He is currently working on books on bus boycotts in the United States and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s and on the 1981 South African Springbok rugby team's tour to the US. He is the author of three books, dozens of scholarly articles and reviews, and has published widely on current affairs in African, American, and European publications. He has lived, worked, and travelled extensively throughout southern Africa. He writes about politics, sports, travel, pop culture, and just about anything else that comes to mind.

Areas of Focus:
Africa; Zimbabwe; South Africa; Apartheid