With the ANC in crisis, the Democratic Alliance seemed to be getting it right. But then came a flurry of inexplicably tactless tweets.
Democracy is in a parlous state in many countries in southern Africa. Autocrats hold onto power, while electorates have little to choose from at the polls.
For Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to invite black South Africans, in a casual manner, to differentiate the legacies of colonialism is asking a lot.
Here are five political leaders from around the world who are emerging as significant talents and possible contenders for influence in 2017 and beyond.
The ruling ANC has been seriously challenged by the Democratic Alliance, but South African politics is still about white privilege and black exclusion.
Liberalism is a dirty word for the majority of South Africans. This goes back to early colonialism. Liberals opposed apartheid but not the close relationship between capitalism and apartheid.
With the election of Mmusi Maimane as leader, the Democratic Alliance, like the ANC, calculated that a black rather than coloured leader is needed for victory at the national level.