5 December 2017

South Africa: Ramaphosa Leads, but the SA Ruling Party Race Still Wide Open

South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is narrowly leading the nominations for the African National Congress (ANC) presidency after all nine provinces completed their general councils.

The final two, coincidentally the home provinces of the two frontrunners - Mr Ramaphosa and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - released their nomination tallies late on Monday.

As expected, the deputy president secured backing from 391 branches in his Limpopo home province and Dr Dlamini-Zuma 104.

Military veterans

She piped him in her KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) home, garnering 433 branches while 193 threw their weight behind Mr Ramaphosa.

By Tuesday morning, Mr Ramaphosa had received 1,862 branch nominations, while his biggest rival managed 1,527.

Mr Ramaphosa won the most nominations in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, while Dr Dlamini-Zuma was backed by the Free State and North West and Mpumalanga.

The branches will account for 90 per cent of the 5,240 voting delegates at the ANC's national elective conference that is due to start December 16, while the rest will come from the party's leadership structures and youth, women and military veterans leagues.

The results mean Mr Ramaphosa won endorsement from most ANC branches to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ruling party leader.

However, analysts have warned the figures did not a guarantee victory in the election on December 17 in Johannesburg.

Political analyst Thulani Ndlovu believes branch nomination numbers were the best indicator of who was likely to win, but insists they were not conclusive.

The support

"At previous ANC elective conferences, the results were more or less in line with the eventual outcome, but I doubt that will be the case this year. I feel there is a lot of vote-buying this time around and some bigger branches can have more than one delegate and there is no guarantee delegates will vote as instructed," Mr Ndlovu explained.

He said Dr Dlamini-Zuma's consolation was the support of the biggest provinces - KZN and Mpumalanga - which are sending more delegates to the fiercely-contested conference.

"For me, it's an indicator the race could still go either way," Mr Ndlovu added.

Former ANC MP Melanie Verwoerd is convinced the fundamental fault line in the voting was that the individual delegates would vote in secret.

"And so the numbers from the provincial general councils are only an indication. There are a number of factors that will come into play to affect the individual delegates in their vote. This includes strong lobbying and even bribery," she said.

The party's three leagues will each have 60 votes, with Dr Dlamini-Zuma expected to receive the backing from the youth, women's groups and the veterans' vote.

The nine provincial committees get a further 27 votes each, while the 86 members of the National Executive Committee were all able to cast ballots and could be fairly evenly split.

Ailing economy

President Zuma is backing his ex-wife Dr Dlamini-Zuma, 68, to succeed him.

Mr Ramaphosa, who is three years her junior, is a respected businessman and former labour union leader. The business world and most investors prefer him to take over the reins.

Mr Ramaphosa has pledged to revive the ailing economy, reduce a 28 per cent unemployment rate and combat corruption if elected.

The elected ANC leader will be the face of the party, come 2019 when South Africa will have its General Elections.

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