SA ruling party gears up for election under new leadership
South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) launches its election campaign this Saturday ahead of polls in May that it is tipped to win despite recently falling support, internal divisions and a sluggish economy.
The ANC, which has ruled since the end of apartheid 25 years ago, suffered a sharp decline in popularity under the scandal-ridden presidency of Jacob Zuma, who was ousted last February after nine years at the helm.
The party of Nelson Mandela suffered a bloody nose in 2016 local elections when it won a record low of 54% of the vote and lost control of the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. But a recent survey predicted that the ANC could garner as much as 61% of the vote in May's national and provincial elections.
The forecast upswing is pinned on the appointment of moderate pro-business reformer Cyril Ramaphosa as president after ANC lawmakers forced Zuma to resign as corruption scandals piled up. "If there was no Ramaphosa, the ANC was not going to win this election," Xolani Dube, a political analyst at the Durban-based Xubera think-tank, told AFP. "ANC was on the brink of losing these elections and Ramaphosa came as a saviour."
Other analysts are more cautious, saying that the ANC could win even without Ramaphosa, but with a significantly reduced majority.
On Saturday, the party expects 85 000 activists to turn out at a soccer stadium in Durban for the launch of its election manifesto.