Jacob Zuma free to run in South Africa’s election: What happens next?

Last updated:
Apr 13, 2024

What's inside?

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), is expected to fail to achieve 50% of the vote for the first time since 1994. Marred by corruption, high levels of violent crime and the extended load shedding crisis, they will likely be forced to seek a weakened coalition government at the polls in May.

Opposition parties are mounting substantial campaigns in anticipation. Among these is the new uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party run by former President Jacob Zuma, which takes its name from the original armed wing of the ANC during Apartheid.

Zuma has now been cleared to run for office despite his own previous charges of Corruption, seizing a populist moment of anti-migrant sentiment.

Why it matters

Given their diverging approaches and leadership styles, opposition parties appear unlikely to co-operate with each other, instead aiming to compete with the weakened ANC.  

Although one of the smaller parties, MK’s rise highlights a growing social belief that foreigners are responsible for South Africa’s struggling economy and rising crime.

This has manifested in multiple ways, with violence observed during the 2019 Johannesburg riots extending into a trend of increasing xenophobic violence over the last five years.

Formalised groups have also increased their influence, such as the anti-migrant group Operation Dudula, which conducts ‘patrols’ from it’s branches across the country that demand any foreigners they encounter to present their immigration papers.

Collectively, the upcoming election is likely to be a period of instability, punctuated by an increased risk for foreign nationals operating in the country.

For organisations, this represents an increased likelihood of extant political risks manifesting; particularly losses due to Strikes, Riots, and Civil Commotion (SRCC), as well as Political Violence (PV) and Business Interruption (BI).

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