Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday expressed delight with the re-election of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma by the ruling African National Congress which voted overwhelmingly to retain him as head of the party, almost guaranteeing him another five years as president.
He defeated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, with 2,983 votes to Motlanthe's 991. Zuma went to the stage immediately after the announcement and waved to the cheering crowd. Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was elected deputy president of the party, pushing out Motlanthe from the power post after his challenge of Zuma.
"Nigeria has much to learn from South Africa's 100 year-old African National Congress, the ANC. This was just one of the many thoughts on my mind this afternoon as I watched my friend and brother Jacob Zuma make a masterful victory speech", Atiku a close friend of Zuma who was at the congress, said.
Atiku said, "It has been a privilege to witness this 53rd Congress of the ANC the election of its next set of leaders. The conference is held every 5 years, and in the context of current developments it has been a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to witness history being made by a party whose liberation spirit is still going strong. I congratulate my friend President Jacob Zuma on retaining the leadership of his party - defeating so worthy and credible a contender as Motlanthe".
He said Jacob Zuma fought hard - with wit, style, shrewd manoeuvring, compassion and a transparent patriotism that has ensured he has the respect of his party and the love of his people.
Some 4,000 delegates voted in the ANC's leadership contest early yesterday at the party's Mangaung conference, a city also known as Bloemfontein. Whoever the party picks will likely be the next president of this nation of 50 million people, as opposition parties lack the support the ANC enjoys in South Africa, according to correspondents on ground.
Zuma, 70, was the favourite heading into the conference after winning the nominations in most provincial ANC polls. He has wide support among Zulus, South Africa's largest ethnic group, as well as from a loyal cadre of government and party officials.