Political Risk Analysis - Quick View: Court Ruling Offers Headwinds To Pro-Zuma Forces In KZN - NOV 2017

The Latest: On September 12, South Africa's High Court overturned the results of the ANC's 2015 elective conference in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The bruising election had seen Sihle Zikalala defeat the former provincial premier Senzo Mchunu for control of party leadership in KZN. A group of Mchunu's supporters originally brought the case, citing irregularities in the voting processes.

Implications: This latest ruling will likely have at least some impact on the outcome of the December 16-20 elective conference, at which the ANC will select its new leader. South Africa's ruling party is deeply divided between a pro and anti-Zuma wing. Ahead of the conference, the ANC has spilt between two candidates: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the pro-Zuma candidate and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the anti-Zuma candidate. While we are not convinced that the court's decision will be a game-changer in and of itself, the ruling could undermine the influence of the ANC's pro-Zuma forces in a high stakes province.

Indeed, KZN had long been a stronghold for the pro-Zuma wing of the party. Under the leadership of Zikalala - who is a staunch supporter of the president's - the province has been poised to throw its weight more substantially behind Dlamini-Zuma. However, the recent ruling will likely undermine the legitimacy and political capital of the current leadership. In turn, this could decrease scope for the provincial leadership to have as big an impact on delegates when they go to make their selection at the elective conference in Decemeber. With KwaZulu-Natal having the biggest party membership of any of the nine provinces, this could have a potentially important impact on the outcome at the national elective conferences.

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