In a few days, the governing party will officially open the leadership contest ahead of its December national conference. In reality, the race has been on for months. Already, thousands of the voting delegates have been lobbied to support one of the seven known candidates to succeed Jacob Zuma as ANC president in December and, maybe, president of the country in 2019. Of the seven hopefuls, only two are serious contenders — Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Either one might win in December only to preside over a party that either loses power in 2019 or leads a coalition government. Still, this doesn’t mean they are irrelevant. In fact, the critical period for SA’s economy is between December and the next general election.Most analysts expect that nothing significant in policy terms is likely to happen between now and December, and that Zuma is likely to see out his term. Whoever wins in December will not necessarily replace Zuma immediately, but like Zuma in 2008, the new l...

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