South Africa has been cast into a dark spell of political instability after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) imposed an ‘outsider’, Thoko Didiza, as its Tshwane mayoral candidate.
Didiza, from the Zulu ethnic group, if elected will be faced with an ethnic divided ANC on one hand and a fierce opposition on the other that might render South Africa’s capital ungovernable. Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, acknowledged 'tribalistic' sentiments coming from some protesters who allege that "Didiza is not part of us".
The ANC’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, was at pains to admit that this mutiny was from within the party structures preferring, earlier, to characterise protesters as thugs and hooligans.
He has since acknowledged that some party leaders were behind the violent incidences, but remains adamant that Didiza will remain as the candidate.
Business and political analysts believe these developments will further strain an economy on a watch list by ratings agencies with a possibility of a downgrade later in the year if the crisis persists.
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Rating agencies in their last review warned that Africa’s third largest economy and the most industrialised was facing a possible downgrade to the so called junk status if political instability remained.
In protest over the appointment of Didiza as a candidate in a region largely dominated by ethnic Tswanas and some Sotho dialects, over 20 buses were burnt down with countless businesses belonging to foreigners being looted and torched.
Some believe the move is meant to reconfigure electoral map ahead of ANC’s elective conference. Those arguing against Didiza believe she is likely to be sympathetic to Zuma’s preferred successor, should he decide against running for a third term as party president.
A recent survey conducted by research organisation, Ipsos South Africa, showed ANC with a slight lead in Tshwane. The recent unrest in the city could further strain ANC’s chances of a continued hold on the country’s capital.
Ernest Messina, CEO of business chamber, AHI, says his organisation was deeply concerned about the developments.
“Every situation has unique features and characteristics and as an organisation, we are deeply concerned that what we are seeing here in the city of Tshwane will have a direct impact on individual businesses and some of our members,” he said.
ANC has been facing similar protests across the country. One of the tripartite partners, the South African Communist Party, warns that cadre deployment would affect the liberation party's outlook in the long run.
Cadre deployment is at the centre of corrupt tendering process empting South Africa's purse.