South Africa on Wednesday held its most hotly contested presidential election since the end of apartheid, said Jonathan Clayton in Britain's The Times, but it was really no contest. Millions of voters lined up, and nearly two-thirds of them were believed to be backing the African National Congress' Jacob Zuma. But Zuma, who has survived sex and corruption scandals, is "deeply polarizing," and after years of "bitter infighting," the ANC's dominance is eroding.
Maybe, said Karin Brulliard in The Washington Post, but a victory for Zuma will keep the ANC in charge for another five years, "a prospect that has some here asking whether this beacon of democracy is becoming a one-party state." ANC defectors to a new opposition party, COPE, warned that the ANC was turning South Africa into a "failed one-party state," but voters apparently still have faith in the party of Nelson Mandela.
The problem isn't that South Africa is getting more of the same, said Parmy Olson in Forbes. It's that the scandal-ridden Zuma "is an unknown quantity outside the realm of pure politics." The country's economy has "dealt with the global credit crisis relatively well, but a changeover in politics that lead to any kind of missteps could change that if investors pull out."