A wave of optimism has swept across South Africa since Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country last Wednesday. There was a collective sigh of relief that the 9-year scandal-ridden presidency of Zuma was finally over. Middle-class commentators said that a ‘new dawn’ has arrived. But Marxists have explained many times that the crisis facing South Africa is not that of an individual, a single political party nor one section of the ruling class. The political crisis is only an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system as a whole. And as long as the system survives, changes at the top will not result in changes of anything fundamental.

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” - Lenin

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” - Euripides

As we write these lines, the Zuma-Gupta empire is crumbling. In one of the most dramatic days in South African politics in recent memory, Jacob Zuma – and his friends, the Gupta brothers – are being purged by a rival wing of the ruling class. The purge is the most emphatic sign that the two rival factions can no longer cohabitate.

Extraordinary events over the last few days, surrounding the fate of Jacob Zuma, have plunged the ANC – and the country – into a deep crisis. Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency is clearly untenable for the Ramaphosa faction, which marginally controls the ANC. Moreover, Zuma’s continued presence is destabilising the whole political situation and could damage the ANC’s electoral prospects in 2019. Big business is desperate to dig itself out of a hole. The problem for them is that the balance of forces between the two fighting ANC factions is very even, as we saw at the national conference in December. Now the crisis in the party has put the whole country in political limbo.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president in December has coincided with the meltdown of the main bourgeois opposition party: the Democratic Alliance. But while the DA’s fortunes are declining, paradoxically, Ramaphosa’s victory at the Nasrec conference was widely welcomed by large sections of the ruling class, including big business, which now feels more secure with one of its own at the helm of the ANC.

The last few days have seen the beginning of a new movement of the Tunisian youth, almost seven years to the day after they overthrew the hated regime of Ben Alí in 2011. This time, a proposed budget, imposed by the IMF, has sparked protests around the country. Dozens of activists have been arrested and one protester killed. The “Fech Nastannou?” (what are we waiting for?) movement is a stark demonstration that having overthrown the dictator did not automatically solve the problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of a future that provoked the uprising in 2011.

The factional fights in the ANC have left its 54th National conference in deadlock. It confirmed what we have known all along – that the organisation is in terminal crisis. It also revealed that the ANC is divided straight down the middle. In the end the leadership tried to come to some sort of agreement. But the effect of this has only led to paralysis. The process could end up in court with the ANC even weaker as a result.

The African National Congress (ANC) is holding its 54th National conference - at the Nasrec Expo Centre near Gold Reef City from 16 to 20 December - more divided than ever before. Tottering on the brink, the party has never been in such a lamentable state, not even in the days of the underground and in exile.

The news of heavy fraud and corruption in two of South Africa’s biggest monopolies has thrown the big capitalists into turmoil. The scandals, which broke out almost simultaneously, involve two global behemoths, Naspers and Steinhof, and implicate some of the very biggest tycoons in the country, such as Christo Wiese, Markus Jooste and Koos Bekker.

Robert Mugabe’s departure on Tuesday, 21 November as president of Zimbabwe, after 37 years in office, has sent ripples throughout the southern African region. In Uganda it has brought out many of the underlying tensions beneath the surface of society.

Note: this article was published shortly before Mugabe announced his resignation, with immediate effect, at approximately 4pm (UTC).

On Monday morning, Zimbabwe was on a knife-edge after Robert Mugabe failed to announce his resignation as state president the previous evening. His resignation was widely expected after he lost complete control of his party over the weekend.

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