South African politics is changing. The future of the broader ANC Alliance and COSATU now hangs in the balance as trade union rivalries, policy disagreements and personality clashes begin to fashion an entirely new political climate in the country.
The advent of the EFF has also disrupted the somewhat predictable pattern of parliamentary procedures and is causing substantial tension within the ruling party. Add to this a stronger Democratic Alliance and a weakened ANC – particularly in Gauteng – and you have a recipe for a much more competitive and contested political arena in the run-up to the 2016 local government elections and beyond.
South Africa may also get a brand new political grouping on the Left of the political spectrum if NUMSA’s suspension from COSATU is made permanent. This too can weaken the ANC, take away some electoral support and destabilize the ruling party’s power base.
The weakened Presidency under Jacob Zuma – still battling issues surrounding Nkandla – and a domestic economy that has deteriorated to lower levels of growth is likely to result in an unpredictable yet potentially exciting environment in which both political and economic change can occur. An increasingly important role for Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to emerge as contenders for power begin to position themselves.