EDITORIAL | Future will tell if ANC can survive

Now may be premature to be taking a long view of present circumstances, but since opposition parties raised the matter of early elections during Parliament this week, it is worth weighing up the future value of current events.

Predictions, which is what such an exercise essentially represents, are tricky when the currency is politics. And as we learnt this week, an hour can be a long time in politics.

The saga that became former president Jacob Zuma’s departure from office had more twists and turns than Montvernier’s famous Alpine switchbacks.

One moment he was leaving, then he wasn’t; there were negotiations, then there weren’t; there was a party recall, defiantly opposed, until, deserted and with nowhere to go, Zuma resigned.

Clearly, the opposition smell blood and believe they can capitalise by going to the polls sooner rather than later. But they are trading on the Zuma effect.

Their call for an early election made sense while Zuma was still president. By staying on, he was a blight on the ANC. Even the party acknowledges he cost them dearly in the local government elections in 2016.

If for no other reason (and there are many), the ANC was compelled to jettison Zuma to avoid more pain at the ballot box next year.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascension to the presidency has changed sentiment. He could convince disillusioned ANC voters to return, especially during this honeymoon period.

An early election may not, therefore, be the dead cert it was for the opposition while Zuma was at the helm.

But whether this year or next, the general elections will tell us if we have, to borrow from DA leader Mmusi Maimane, a Zuma problem only, or an ANC one.

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