Editor’s Note: Starting this week, Andrew Green is taking over Africa Watch, WPR’s weekly roundup of the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.
South Africa went to the polls Wednesday for the fifth national election since the end of apartheid in 1994. The vote was largely seen as a referendum on the African National Congress, which has been the ruling party for the past quarter-century, and its leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Official results are not due until Saturday, though early returns show the ANC is set to win, and that Ramaphosa will secure a full term in office after replacing his disgraced predecessor, Jacob Zuma, in February 2018. But pundits are keeping a close eye on the margin of victory, which currently appears likely to be lower than the 62 percent the ANC scored in 2014. Returns for the ANC of under 60 percent might “embolden elements within the ANC still unhappy with [Ramaphosa’s] leadership, while eroding his authority and complicating the already difficult attempt to engineer a decisive break with the corruption and cronyism of the Zuma years,” James Hamill wrote in a briefing for WPR last month.