Written by Quintin Coetzee
South Africa’s governing party, The African National Congress, has announced that its 4700 delegates, who began voting on Sunday night, have elected Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new party leader. Ramaphosa will replace Jacob Zuma as the head of South Africa’s governing party, and will lead the country into its 2019 General Elections, Zuma is ineligible to run again, having reached his two term limit.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former Minister, former Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Ramaphosa’s opponent, secured 2,261 votes, compared to his 2,440.
Cyril Ramaphosa served as the Secretary General of the ANC from 1991 to 1997, and has been South Africa’s Deputy President since 2014. Ramaphosa remained in the country during the apartheid years, despite his criticisms of the then-government, while many of his ANC peers were exiled. He spent time defending the rights of black miners as leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Relied on by Nelson Mandela during transition talks when the ANC government was about to come into power in 1994, Ramaphosa was Mandela’s pick to succeed him. However, due to pressure from other ANC members, Thabo Mbeki became the country’s second President.
Ramaphosa turned to commerce, using his investment vehicle, Shanduka (Venda for “change”), grew rapidly, and acquired stakes in mining firms, mobile operator MTN, and McDonald’s South Africa. Phuti Mahanyele, a former Chief Executive at Shanduka, recalled that Ramaphosa was a passionate leader who required staff to contribute to charitable projects aimed at improving access to education for the underprivileged.
Five other top party positions were voted on during the ANC’s 54th National Conference. The role of Deputy President goes to Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza. Gwede Mantashe, current ANC Secretary-General, will assume the role of the party’s National Chairperson. Ace Magashule, current Premier of the Free State, has taken the position of Secretary-General. Jessie Duarte retained her position as Deputy Secretary-General. Gauteng Provincial Chair for the ANC, Paul Mashatile, will be the party’s Treasurer-General.
Members from both camps within the ANC have been elected to the party’s highest positions. Magashule and Duarte both expressed their support for a Dlamini-Zuma win in the run-up to the election, while Mantashe publicly supported Ramaphosa.
During the 2014 general election, the ANC garnered 62.15% of the vote, with the DA taking 22.23%, and the EFF going home with 6.35%. This gave the parties 249, 89, and 25 seats in South Africa’s 400-seat National Assembly.
The next South African general election will take place in 2019. Exact dates have yet to be announced.