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Ramaphosa Lacks Power to Stem South African Unrest, Study Finds

  • Spike in protests coincides with ruling party election process
  • Country may have entered phase of ongoing, violent instability
Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa lacks the authority within the ruling African National Congress to contain growing civil unrest as its competing factions vie for influence, positions, state contracts and dwindling resources, a new study has found. 

The number of protests staged annually in the country has doubled to more than 1,000 since Ramaphosa took office in early 2018, two months after he secured the leadership of the ANC by a razor-thin margin, according to the study by the Institute for Security Studies and the Government and Public Policy think tank. Violence reached a pinnacle in July last year, when former President Jacob Zuma’s arrest on contempt of court charges triggered rioting that claimed 354 lives.