Ramaphosa rallies supporters yesterday in Johannesburg. Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in the first election since the legendarily corrupt Jacob Zuma was forced out of office in February 2018.

Why it matters: Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Zuma both as president and as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) party, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994. His supporters say he needs a big mandate to make a break from the Zuma era.

  • Most polls show the ANC receiving a majority, a result that would guarantee a new term for Ramaphosa (presidents aren’t directly elected). Still, the party of Nelson Mandela is far less popular than it once was and deeply divided.
  • “Ramaphosa needs a united ANC to achieve his agenda, but he doesn’t have that,” a veteran ANC politician told Reuters. “His enemies are going nowhere.”

One of the most polarizing issues Ramaphosa faces is land reform, which he has vowed to "accelerate."

  • 25 years after apartheid, land ownership is still tilted heavily toward white South Africans. As Ariel Levy reports in a New Yorker piece published today, many black South Africans are demanding justice, while some white farmers feel under siege.

Between the lines: Levy quotes someone who has discussed land reform with Ramaphosa:

“Cyril doesn’t believe in expropriation without compensation. He got stuck with it. For a state President coming into an ailing economy, taking over the reins from a dysfunctional kleptocrat, and then having to go on a world road show to convince investors to come into the country — while at the same time saying, ‘Expropriation without compensation’? It’s a nightmare!”

Go deeper

20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

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