Voting has begun in Gauteng, South Africa by delegates of the African National Congress(ANC) to elect a new leadership and more importantly, the successor to President Jacob Zuma as party leader.
After initial delays over delegate accreditation, polling finally kicked off around midnight at the 54th National Congress of the party. The result will be announced on Monday afternoon, the Sowetan reported.
By 6am only four provinces were still left to cast their votes. They are Eastern Cape‚ Gauteng‚ Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 4,776 delegates will vote.
Of all the six top six positions in contention, the most riveting is the contest between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC presidency.
The vote is perhaps the most pivotal moment for the ANC since it launched black-majority rule under Nelson Mandela’s leadership 23 years ago. With scandal and graft accusations having tainted Zuma’s presidency, the party is deeply divided and its image tarnished at home and abroad.
Whoever emerges at the helm of the African National Congress, a 105-year-old liberation movement that dominates Africa’s most industrialised economy, is likely to become the country’s next president after elections in 2019.
In a boost to Ramaphosa, courts ruled that officials from some provinces seen as supporting Dlamini-Zuma had been elected illegally and were barred from the conference.
Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader who later became a businessman and is now one of the richest people in South Africa, has vowed to fight corruption and revitalise the economy, a message that has gone down well with foreign investors.
Dlamini-Zuma pledged during her campaign to tackle the racial inequality that has persisted in South Africa since the end of white-minority rule.
Ramaphosa drew 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.
“The race is extremely close,” said Susan Booysen, a political analyst at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance in Johannesburg. “Before today we said Dlamini-Zuma could emerge as a winner. Even if there is a strong lead in terms of branch nominations by the Ramaphosa camp, it’s not clear-cut.”
Other contestants are:
- Deputy president – David Mabuza and Lindiwe Sisulu
- National chairperson – Gwede Mantashe and Nathi Mthethwa
- Secretary General – Senzo Mchunu and Ace Magashule
- Deputy Secretary General – Jessie Duarte and Zingiswa Losi
- Treasurer General – Paul Mashatile Maite and Nkoana-Mashabane