Jacob Zuma, African National Congress leader, who was acquitted of rape and corruption charges, appears in line to become the next president of South Africa. Despite being dogged by graft allegations, he has capitalized on the blunders of President Thabo Mbeki in order to gain overwhelming support of ANC members. Zuma is using the autocratic leadership style of Mbeki to gain widespread support as well as emphasizing a commitment to help the poor of his nation. Many people believe, although Mbeki has helped to generate a vibrant economy by working closely with business interests, he has paid less attention to those in the bottom rung of society. Zuma has gained the support of most trade union leaders, and in an amazing turnaround, the ANC Women’s League announced it would back Zuma. This group severely attacked his behavior when Zuma was charged with rape and then justified having sex with an HIV positive woman on grounds that he showered afterwards.
President Mbeki is still fighting to maintain control over the African National Congress and will not readily surrender his power. Whoever controls the ANC is assured of election to the presidency and Zuma at this point appears to be clearly in the lead. Mbeki can not run again for the presidency, but he wants control over the ANC in order to determine who will succeed him in the presidency.