How Zuma could affect South Africa

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Bill Radke: In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress is expected to win tomorrow’s election. Some investors are worried about the new administration’s economic plans. Marketplace’s Gretchen Wilson is in Johannesburg. Gretchen, tell us about South Africa’s likely next president, Jacob Zuma.

Gretchen Wilson: Well, he’s a hero in the struggle against apartheid. He’s shaken off multiple allegations of corruption. He’s supported by right-wing Afrikaners and traditional Zulu chiefs. He was also once a member of the Communist Party, and most recently he rose to prominence backed by the Communist Party and South Africa’s trade union federation.

And what kind of platform is he running on?

Wilson: Well, he’s promising a lot to those who feel that South Africa’s growth, economic growth in recent years has passed them by. So he’s calling for a vast expansion of government services, like free education, free health care, and bringing things like electricity and clean water to rural areas. He’s also insisting that he’s not going to rock the boat when it comes to shifts in economic policy. He’s saying that he’s going to do all this, but he’s going to try to keep that economic policy that spurred South Africa’s growth in recent years. But still, international investors and rating agencies are watching very closely to see what happens after he takes office.

Radke: And what are those investors and rating agencies looking for?

Wilson: The investors and rating agencies will look to see how Zuma stacks his cabinet. They’re going to be looking to see whether or not he replaces the long-standing finance minister, Trevor Manuel, and whether or not the leaders that he appoints to his cabinet will indicate a shift to the left.

Radke: Gretchen Wilson in Johannesburg. Thank you.

Thank you very much.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2009

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