There's a scenario - a bit of a stretch, I know -that the ANC splits before the 2019 election.

Already some Zuma supporters in KwaZulu-Natal are planning a breakaway, but their policy position is so feeble - radical economic transformation with all land falling under the control of traditional leaders - I doubt even Zuma would seriously entertain it.

But if somehow Ramaphosa were unable to secure a parliamentary majority next year he would be forced to form a coalition. Informal or formal, first in line would be the EFF, which would demand a high price for its support.

People like me who cheered when President Cyril Ramaphosa won the ANC leadership race and then eased Jacob Zuma out of the government get a bit of stick from the sceptics in our body politic. We're at best naive, starry-eyed. So it was a pleasant surprise to read the liberal historian and Oxford don, RW Johnson, write recently that "whether we like it or not, Cyril Ramaphosa and his old United Democratic Front comrades are our thin red line, our last line of defence against a national collapse".Johnson believes South Africa, post the Zuma years, is perilously close to failure. "Let us be frank," he writes, "we face a situation of the utmost gravity. Twenty-four years of majority rule have all but ruined the country, Ramaphosa and those who support him have their backs to the wall as the corrupt and criminal elements of the Zuma regime try to resist at every point. "We are now so close to a debt trap that the best argument for not closing down SAA completely is that it might start a ...

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