Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress are likely to win South Africa's vote today, after successfully turning this election into a face-off between the country's well-off blacks and whites and its poor black majority. That majority will likely sweep Zuma into office. Little has changed for them since the country first become democratic in 1994.
Zuma has successfully portrayed himself as 'poor', drawing parallels between the marginalization of poor South African blacks and his personal marginalization by the administration of former President Thabo Mbeki. He was deputy president in that administration, and Mbeki's close ally, until being sacked for alleged corruption in 2005.
His campaign has distanced him from that government's failures, portraying his faction of the ANC, which is now in charge, as a different party altogether - especially when it comes to corruption. That's a shift well-timed with a dramatic change in the mood of the South African poor, who are fed up with poverty and are demanding their share of the promised economic dividends of democracy. Some poorer South Africans are blaming democracy itself for their marginalization, rather than government incompetence, leadership indifference and infighting within the ANC.