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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

14 mins ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.

Too big to cover alone: Newsrooms team up

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

News outlets are increasingly willing to work together on big, multifaceted stories — including this week's reporting on leaked documents from a Facebook whistleblower.

Why it matters: Collaborative efforts help bring more resources to bear on complex stories, some of which require a global reporting effort. But they require high degrees of coordination, and competition can sometimes get in the way.

Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Confidence in President Biden's ability to rescue the economy from COVID-19 has dropped since January, even as Americans' faith rises in his ability to make the vaccine widely accessible, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: It's Democrats and independents driving the declining economic confidence, from 52% of all U.S. adults at the start of his presidency to 44% now. Their softening faith could hinder Biden's ability to lead and hurt Democrats' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

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