Last year was characterised by hope, after the decade of maladministration and corruption under former president Jacob Zuma came to an end. But it was also characterised by despair, as populist, nationalist politics took root and the fightback against corruption grew unexpected legs. Politics will again take centre stage in the year ahead, with the hotly contested sixth provincial and national elections likely to take place in May. But the economy will also play a key role, given its capacity to undermine even the strongest campaign as SA’s democracy reaches the quarter-century mark. Before the elections, the ANC will have to complete the arduous process of finalising its candidate lists for the provincial and national legislatures — a process already marred by factionalism. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s narrow victory at the party’s Nasrec conference in December 2017 looms over the process of appointing candidates, with allies of former president Jacob Zuma seeking to push their way ...

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