Any candidate endorsed by president Jacob Zuma to succeed him is drinking from a poisoned chalice, according to Bloomberg, citing politics lecturer at the University of Cape Town, Zwelethu Jolobe.
Jolobe said that because of Zuma’s widely publicized problems with the law, his power to determine succession lines within the ANC has been diminished significantly – with the party leaders likely wanting to move away from the Zuma legacy.
“An endorsement from Zuma would be tantamount to a poisoned chalice,” Jolobe said.
Another political expert from the University of Johannesburg said that Zuma’s presidency has tainted the ANC’s image, and if the party wanted to focus on restoring its image, it would likely move away from any candidate with links to Zuma.
It is understood that South Africa’s next president will likely be one of three candidates from the ANC: deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa; exiting AU chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; and current speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete.
According to reports citing part insiders, Dlamini-Zuma, who is also the president’s ex-wife, is Zuma’s favoured candidate, with ‘behind-doors lobbying’ on her behalf already underway within the party.
However, media groups have reported that Dlamini-Zuma’s name recognition has presented a dilemma to the ANC, where some factions want a clean break from the Zuma name.
“Although she is an accomplished politician, those who are opposed to Zuma may not be too happy with another Zuma taking over,” associate professor of political science at the University of Johannesburg, Mcebisi Ndletyana said.
Subsequently, there is a push from supporters of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to have him step up to the position, as has been tradition in the ANC.
Ramaphosa is seen as a “clean” politician, who has no ties to Zuma’s legacy, or his messy business dealings with the Gupta family. During all of Zuma’s missteps – Nkandla, firing Nhlanhla Nene, the Gupta saga – Ramaphosa has remained independent, with no public stance for or against the president.
The only “cloud” hanging over his head is the Marikana shootings in 2012, experts said, which could ultimately leave the candidate for South Africa’s next president wide open.
“There isn’t a nationwide consensus on who the next president should be,” Jolobe told Bloomberg. “I don’t think at the moment anybody is a clear front-runner. The scenario is too fluid.”
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