Ramaphosa’s Economic Plans Undermined by Foes in South Africa’s ANC

(Bloomberg) -- Factions in South Africa’s ruling African National Congress are seizing the policy initiative and undermining President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to revive the nation’s flagging economy, according to Robert Schrire, a political science professor at the University of Cape Town.

Since Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma as president a year ago, after winning the party leadership vote by the narrowest of margins, his opponents have retained some top ANC and state posts and advocated policies such as land seizures that have harmed investor confidence.

“For the first time since 1994, South Africa is ruled directly by factions within the ANC who are strong on populist fervor but weak on sophistication, expertise and capacity,” Schrire said in an emailed report. “The technocrats and administrators with their institutional memories and expertise have been marginalized. Ramaphosa, because of his weak political base, has not had the power to become the dominant force in both party and government.”

South Africa is due to hold elections on May 8 that will indicate whether the ANC, which has governed since the end of apartheid, has reversed a decline in support triggered by Zuma’s scandal-marred rule.

While a strong mandate for the party could make it easier for Ramaphosa to assert himself and stand up against pressure to implement more populist policies, it won’t necessarily cement his authority.

“His rivals and enemies remain entrenched in both the ANC leadership structures and in the government bureaucracy,” Schrire said. “He is therefore, unlike his predecessors, unable to dominate policy and personnel.”

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