South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa takes lead in ANC president race
South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, has a strong lead in the race to become the new leader of the governing African National Congress.
He emerged as frontrunner after ANC party branches chose between him and his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
She is a prominent politician and the ex-wife of scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma, who steps down this month.
The winner of the party race will be well placed to become the country’s new president in 2019.
But the BBC’s Andrew Harding in Johannesburg says the final vote is likely to be close.
The ANC party branches will account for 90% of the 5,240 voting delegates at the ANC’s party conference which starts on 16 December, South Africa’s News24 reports.
However, some branches get more than one vote as the bigger the branch, the more delegates it can send to the conference.
Mr Ramaphosa, who has been highly critical of state corruption and is backed by the business community and unions, took the lead in five of the country’s nine provinces.
But Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, a former African Union Commission chairwoman with the endorsement of her ex-husband to succeed him as ANC president, has the lead in the two provinces with the most ANC delegates – KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
The ANC Women’s League and ANC Youth League, which have officially endorsed 68-year-old Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, are also likely to give her their nominations, according to News24.
Some in the ANC are warning of legal challenges and even vote rigging, as a deeply divided party tries to find a new path, and new energy, after 23 years in power, our reporter says.
The leader of the ANC automatically becomes the party’s candidate for president of the country.
Tight race for the ANC:
Cyril Ramaphosa – backed by 1,861 ANC branches
- Detained for two years for anti-apartheid activities; launched mineworkers’ union in 1982
- Headed committee that prepared for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison
- Left politics to become one of South Africa’s richest businessmen – on Lonmin board during 2012 Marikana massacre
- Became South Africa’s deputy president in 2014.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – backed by 1,309 ANC branches
- A leading anti-apartheid activist, fled South Africa to complete medical training in UK
- Met Jacob Zuma while working as a doctor in Swaziland, divorcing him after 16 years of marriage in 1998
- Declined offer to take place of her ex-husband as deputy president in 2005 after he was sacked
- Chair of the African Union commission from 2012 to 2016.
The branch figures exclude 223 from Mpumalanga province that were recorded as abstentions