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South Africa: Zuma’s early release from prison sparks doubts about Ramaphosa

By Carien du Plessis
Posted on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 14:03

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa testifies before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa testifies before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 12, 2021. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Former president Jacob Zuma's sudden release on medical parole has sparked questions over whether President Cyril Ramaphosa has enough political support in the governing African National Congress for his reform agenda.

There were reports in the City Press, a Sunday broadsheet, that Ramaphosa had given the nod for Zuma’s release beforehand. However, the presidency refused to comment or deny this report, describing the story as “rumours started by anonymous sources”.

If his intention was that he be seen to be supporting Zuma’s release from prison, Ramaphosa might be taking a gamble that he is hoping will benefit him and the ANC ahead of the 1 November local government elections and the ANC’s internal elective conference in December 2022. The populous KwaZulu-Natal province – Zuma’s stronghold – currently constitutes the ANC’s biggest bloc of members.