Cyril Ramaphosa was named president of South Africa last week, two months after being elected president of the ruling African National Congress but nearly a year ahead of his anticipated investiture as head of state. Ramaphosa stood up because Jacob Zuma, the former president, was forced from office in a stunning revolt by the ANC. The change is a last chance for the ANC to restore its image as a credible and capable ruling party. Fortunately, few South African figures are as capable or as respected as Ramaphosa. If he cannot engineer a turnaround, then it likely cannot be done.

Ramaphosa was elected president of the ANC in a party ballot held in December. He bested Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a formidable politician but, perhaps more importantly, Zuma's ex-wife. Zuma had hope that she would succeed him, and thus protect him from the growing number of charges against him. Zuma has been accused of crimes ranging from corruption to rape; he has avoided prosecution on all charges, earning him the nickname "the Teflon president."

Ramaphosa's election did not necessarily signal the end of Zuma's career. The ANC leadership remained divided, with enough Zuma loyalists in senior positions to give him hope that he could remain in office until he would step down as scheduled ahead of the 2019 election. (In South Africa, voters pick a party, which in turn selects the person for the post.)