Opposition leader Mmusi Maimane’s neck is on the line if his party fails to grow in the 2019 election. The DA’s gains in the 2016 local government elections were hailed as a coup for the young liberal democrat and former pastor from Soweto, who rose rapidly to the highest position in the official opposition to become, in 2015, its first black leader. Yet a closer look at that result clearly shows that in that election the DA rode a wave not entirely of its own making. Outrageous levels of corruption and maladministration under Jacob Zuma drove many ANC supporters away and swelled the DA’s ranks. Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as president of the ANC and of SA seemed to pull the rug from under the opposition’s feet. Though elected by a narrow margin as ANC leader in December, his victory was driven almost entire ly by the ANC’s need to hold onto power in 2019. The DA did not see Ramaphosa coming and was left undecided on how to respond. Ramaphosa’s election broke the central theme around...

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