While president Jacob Zuma may not have come out of the 2016 elections stronger, the outcome of a 4-day ANC NEC meeting to discuss the poor showing by the party has revealed exactly how strong he already is.
This is according to Nomura chief strategist for Africa, Peter Attard Montalto, providing an update to investors on the outcome of the meeting.
The outcome of the meeting came as no surprise, Attard Montalto said, with much of the discussion following talk of a “Zumxit” (Zuma exit), being business as usual for the party, with the 14 point plan mentioned by party secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, merely rehashing plans previously highlighted by the ANC.
“While no great surprise came out of the ANC’s NEC meeting, we should recognise that, with a lack of Zumxit, Jacob Zuma has crossed the greatest hurdle between now and the elective conference at the end of next year,” the analyst said.
Notably, there was confirmation that president Zuma does indeed hold a majority on the NEC and that the wider NEC continues to make decisions according to certain rules – such as that the president of the Republic should be the same as the president of the ANC.
“As such, the NEC ‘unanimously’ concluded that it should bear ‘collective responsibility’ for the municipal election results and that ‘no one individual can be blamed’.”
The meeting outcome confirmed that Zuma is the ultimate party operator and knows how to control the ANC and its structures, Attard Montalto said.
“In this sense his political capital has not dropped after these elections. We think this is something investors misunderstand. Someone is only weakened politically if someone else gains more power and can act on that power. That is not the case here.”
“As such, while we wouldn’t say he is ‘stronger’ after this NEC, it does show how strong he already is,” the analyst said.
Nomura’s prediction remains that Jacob Zuma will remain in power until the ANC elective conference, and will step down voluntarily in 2018 – if his faction within the ANC wins.
“As we saw earlier in the year, if an NEC doesn’t react rapidly then change is difficult from there,” the group said.
According to Nomura, the only explanation given by the NEC as to why it lost so much support was that there were “perceptions” driving voters away, rather than the reality of the party’s politics, corruption and its leadership.
The group previously said that a Zuma exit would be viewed as a market positive by investors, and any reinforcement of Zuma’s power would be a market negative.