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Protesters near South Africa's parliament calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign, Cape Town, Feb. 11, 2016 (AP photo).

Beset by Crises of Zuma’s Making, South Africa Readies for Local Elections

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Even by the turbulent standards of Jacob Zuma’s presidency, 2016 has been a rough year for South Africa, as a series of economic and political convulsions have shaken the country. Local elections are set for Aug. 3 against a backdrop of weak governance, a flailing economy, and profound divisions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC). While the ANC’s opponents on the right and the left should be able to seize on this uncertainty at the polls, next month’s electoral outcome will reveal much about the opposition’s prospects for ending the ANC’s dominance in the next general election in 2019.

When Zuma assumed the presidency in 2009, South Africa entered an era in which its politics would be defined by crisis management and damage control. Embroiled in scandals, both personal and political, Zuma has been incapable of providing any strategic vision or giving the kind of attention to South Africa’s complex problems reasonably expected from a head of government. Instead, his energies have been absorbed fighting political fires and struggling for survival amid a constant clamor for his resignation from opposition parties. But 2016 has taken this to a new level. ...

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