With Zuma no longer the focal point, opposition parties will have to develop new campaign strategies and the content of the elections discourse is likely to be markedly different to the 2014 and 2016 polls.

The past few months have shown that having Ramaphosa as head of state is not a magic fix, particularly in terms of the country’s economic performance. Neither does it mean the ANC will be able to return to its glory days when elections were about determining by what percentage the party would win.

There are many people who have turned their backs on the ANC and do not believe a new figurehead is sufficient to mend the trust deficit. While responsibility for much of the damage to the ANC’s reputation can be borne by Zuma, the party cannot escape the fact that it defended and excused corruption and state capture for most of the former president’s term. That will be difficult to airbrush on the campaign trail.

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