Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

ANC succession was complex and should not be reduced to a fight between good and evil, while the outcome of the party’s December conference would not be an immediate cure to the struggling economy, analysts said on Wednesday.

The ANC’s national elective conference is taking place in exactly a month, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the frontrunners.

Political analyst prof Steven Friedman sounded the warning against mischaracterising the factions supporting either candidate as the "good guys vs the bad guys".

Instead, a more lucid reading of the factional fault lines was that the party was divided along the haves and the have-nots, mirroring the state of the South African economy.

Friedman was speaking at the Growth Summit.

"What has happened over the last 23 years includes a concentration of the economy, with huge barriers to entry, and that has largely remained in place with the exception that we have allowed a small group of a few black people to be included," said Friedman.


Regardless of which faction emerged victorious at the December conference, the months after it would be characterised by much bargaining between the two sides based on a number of issues and neither side would have free rein to manoeuvre as it wished.

"The expectation is that we are on the edge of a massive watershed where one faction wins and we will then be clear and face the economic consequences. This is absolutely wrong," he said.

He also warned against idealising the ANC succession battle as a race between a "crooked" faction and a faction of "good guys who will chase the baddies away".

Hugo Pienaar of the Bureau for Economic Research said the economic outlook was likely to remain modest regardless of who won in December.

"In the advent of democracy, SA has tracked the global growth trend quite closely."

The ANC conference was a critical event, and the build-up to it was being watched by both South Africans and the global investment community.

"Regardless of which candidate wins, the economic outlook will remain constrained. Confidence can move either way, depending on the outcome of the conference," said Pienaar.

Pienaar said the financial markets and business confidence were bound to have a negative initial reaction if
Dlamini-Zuma were to succeed President Jacob Zuma.

On the other hand, if Ramaphosa won, the markets and domestic investors would immediately react positively.

"A concern is that one faction’s narrative is radical economic transformation.

"Many would agree ... [about] transforming the economy but what follows is how to go about doing that. Dlamini-Zuma’s remarks are vague when discussing this, so it is unclear if she would be able to effect reforms in any event," he said.

He said the potential for a sovereign credit rating downgrade after a Dlamini-Zuma victory was higher than if Ramaphosa won, owing in part to the fact that the international investment community was expecting a Ramaphosa victory.

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