The African National Congress’ failure to manage elite contestation within its ranks since 2007 has seen tensions spilling out, often as ‘service delivery’ protests. Former president Jacob Zuma tried to bring this under control, largely through patronage and repression. The sharp rise in protests from the end of 2017 suggests that President Cyril Ramaphosa does not wield the same authority as his predecessor. This means South Africa has likely entered a phase of ongoing, violent instability.