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Vol 50 No 17

Published 28th August 2009

South Africa

So far, so Zuma

Economic downturns, rising joblessness and a wave of strikes and protests fail to dampen the rising popularity of the new President

The standard criticism of Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was that he was a populist, seeking the presidency mainly to protect himself against prosecution for corrupt enrichment in South Africa's US$6 billion arms deal (AC Vol 49 No 16). That idea has been promptly abandoned. His first 100 days in office, marked by several astute appointments, reveal him as a shrewd operator who wants to leave a political mark on behalf of his working-class constituents, while not alienating Afrikaners and big business. It is a delicate balancing act and he may not pull it off, but he is making a far better go of it than many had predicted.

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