South Africa’s Economic Heartland Backs Ramaphosa in ANC Race

JOHANNESBURG (Capital Markets in Africa) – South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa won the backing of African National Congress members in the nation’s economic heartland and extended his early lead in the nomination process to succeed President Jacob Zuma as head of the ruling party this month.

Ramaphosa won the endorsement for the ANC presidency from 374 branches in Gauteng, tallies released Saturday at a party meeting in Pretoria, the capital, show. That’s the fourth province to back him. His main rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife and favoured candidate, was supported by 64 branches on the province, which include the nation’s commercial centre, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.

Gauteng will account for about 10 percent of the 5,240 voting delegates at the ANC’s national conference starting Dec. 16, the sixth most of the nine provinces. The new ANC leader will be the party’s candidate in 2019 elections, when Zuma is due to end his second term as president.

The deputy president already secured nominations from the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, while the Free State and North West back Dlamini-Zuma. Mpumalanga, which will send the second-most delegates to the elective conference and announced its tallies on Friday, is keeping its options open about who it will back, with almost half of its branches declining to name their candidate yet. The remaining two provinces should announce their favoured candidates by December 5.

The majority of ANC branches in Gauteng nominated Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as deputy president and backed Senzo Mchunu, the former premier of the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal for secretary-general. The party’s provincial chairman Paul Mashatile was backed as treasurer-general.

The election has divided the 105-year-old ANC like never before and pitted Ramaphosa and party veterans against Zuma, who’s been mired in allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family, his son’s business partners, to influence cabinet appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Most investors favour Ramaphosa, 65, a lawyer, former labour-union leader and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, who has pledged to revive the ailing economy, reduce a 28 percent unemployment rate and combat corruption if elected. Zuma’s preferred successor is Dlamini-Zuma, 68, who has echoed his call for “radical economic transformation” to place more of the country’s wealth in the hands of the black majority.

While the branch nomination tallies are the best available indicator of who’s likely to win, they aren’t conclusive because some bigger branches are entitled to more than one delegate and there’s no guarantee delegates will vote as instructed.

Source: Bloomberg Business News



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