Editor's Note: This report was produced and originally published Feb. 8 by Threat Lens, Stratfor's unique protective intelligence product. Designed with corporate security leaders in mind, Threat Lens enables industry professionals to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people and assets around the world.
African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa on Feb. 6 began direct talks regarding a presidential transition with South African President Jacob Zuma, Reuters reported Feb. 7. In the first confirmation that a dialogue was occurring, Ramaphosa issued a statement that the talks represented an opportunity for South Africa to conclude a peaceful power transition.
While exactly how the political situation will play out remains unclear, as we said in our initial outlook on the crisis, large or violent protests requiring a security response are unlikely regardless of whether there is a political transition. Unlike other countries, where such a swift political transition could lead to domestic unrest escalating to violence, there is precedent for a swift, but peaceful, presidential transition in South Africa: The 2008 ouster of President Thabo Mbeki.
Political responses from both pro- and anti-Zuma camps do not portend violent political action. The response from Zuma supporters has been relatively muted, even when news emerged that his removal was a distinct possibility. Isolated protests occurred in Johannesburg, but police and demonstrators did not clash, and no looting or violence occurred. Zuma himself has very little motive to provoke violence just to remain in power. Meanwhile, the anti-Zuma response has been similarly restrained, so even a prolonged Zuma administration would likely mean a continuation of the status quo, which has not seen large demonstrations become violent. While large or disruptive demonstrations are unlikely, those operating in South Africa should still remain aware of developments going forward.