17, December 2017
The African National Congress expects to announce the successor to President Jacob Zuma as party leader on Sunday (December 17) when ANC delegates elect a new figurehead for the movement that has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid.
The vote is crucial because whoever emerges at the helm of the 105-year-old liberation movement that has electoral dominance in Africa’s most industrialized economy is likely to become South Africa’s next president after elections in 2019.
After lengthy delays on the first day of the ANC conference on Saturday, the leadership contest was still too close to call, with most grassroots ANC members backing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa or Zuma’s preferred candidate, his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68.
Ramaphosa, 65, got the majority of nominations from party branches scattered across the country. But the complexity of the leadership race means it is far from certain he will win when the votes are finally counted.
Under ANC rules, a majority of nominations is not the same as the most votes at the conference and delegates are not bound to vote for a particular candidate.
How the roughly 6,000 delegates will vote may also be subject to vote-buying and intimidation – which are widely acknowledged to have swayed previous leadership contests.
South African newspaper headlines on Sunday were dominated with the ANC’s pivotal election, with the City Press calling it “The Day of Reckoning.”