In the end, the ANC opted for self-preservation. Now that Cyril Ramaphosa has won what has been called the most important election in the party’s post-apartheid history, two questions emerge. The first is, can the former union leader turned multimillionaire businessman salvage the reputation of the ANC and keep it in power? The second, far more important for tens of millions of ordinary South Africans, is can any government — of whatever hue — begin to bring a sense of hope to the majority of people? The victory of Ramaphosa makes the survival of the ANC more likely, at least for the five years beyond the 2019 parliamentary elections. Under him, the ANC, which has seen its support slip dangerously away in recent elections, could win again in 2019. In last year’s municipal elections, the ANC’s support rate fell to 54% and it lost control of four of the country’s biggest metropolises, including Johannesburg, and even the iconically named Nelson Mandela Bay. Yet all Ramaphosa would nee...

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