The influential international magazine The Economist has changed tack ahead of the May 8 elections to once again back the ANC, but only because of its president, Cyril Ramaphosa.
They have analysed the situation in a way similar to a number of local academics, including Prof Steven Friedman, who has said that a strong showing for the ANC at the polls would bolster Ramaphosa’s ability to weed out rogue and criminal elements in the ANC and create a cleaner and more capable state.
By contrast, if the ANC under his leadership does not attract a significant majority, The Economist fears that it would strengthen the hand of the so-called Jacob Zuma faction in the party, at Ramaphosa’s expense, and the party may be forced into a coalition with the EFF.
Others, including former DA leader Tony Leon, have, however, said that voters have no guarantee which version of the ANC they are likely to end up with since the ANC remains about equally split down the middle. Leon said this week that a vote for the ANC therefore remains a “gamble” for anyone who does not want a return to Zuma-style governance.
In South Africa, voters do not vote for individuals, but for parties. Despite this, the ANC has tailored its campaign posters to focus on Ramaphosa, as polls suggest he is more popular than his corruption-riddled party.
The Economist’s latest edition describes Ramaphosa as the man best positioned to continue with the legacy of Nelson Mandela and grow the “rainbow nation” according to its full potential, putting the nine “wasted Zuma years” behind it.
The Economist has endorsed President Cyril Ramaphosa in this elections. In 2014 they endorsed the DA. pic.twitter.com/dYLlwtuWGY
— Qaanitah|Mzekezeke|Hunter (@QaanitahHunter) April 25, 2019
In the last election, the magazine calculated that the best vote for an Economist reader would be the DA.
The magazine’s choice of cover article follows Time Magazine recently including Ramaphosa on a list of the most influential people in the world.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)