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Monocolumn: The Most Secure Job In South Africa

Monocolumn: The Most Secure Job In South Africa
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South African president Jacob Zuma was reportedly so worried about a rumoured challenge to his leadership that he opted to spend last week with 4,000 party delegates on Durban’s so-called Coast of Dreams rather than attend the UN General Assembly in New York.

Monocle
  • 28 september 2010

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

South African president Jacob Zuma was reportedly so worried about a rumoured challenge to his leadership at his party’s National General Council that he opted to spend last week with 4,000 party delegates on Durban’s so-called Coast of Dreams rather than attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The move paid off. Everyone said the South African president had emerged from the African National Congress’s policy-making conflab looking in control. But that is only because no one wants his job at the helm of the former liberation party that’s now suffering a deep identity crisis.

Sixteen years after the first all-race elections, South Africa remains effectively a single-party democracy. Election after election, the ANC’s biggest worry is whether it will get two-thirds of the vote–the proportion needed in parliament to change the constitution. A slight niggle lies ahead: the municipal elections due in February 2011, at which a low turnout would suggest disenchantment with the ruling party, its polygamous president and the politically connected elite that has emerged through Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

What Zuma needed to do in Durban was to signal that his ideologically overcrowded vessel – whose crew of supporters includes captains of industry and potential leftwing mutineers – is still capable of steering an even course.

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