South Africa's ANC elect new leader to replace Zuma

Leading article December 18 2017 12:01am The Times Exit ZumaSouth Africa urgently needs competent leadership to stamp out corruption

The ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) selected Cyril Ramaphosa, now deputy president, over President Zuma's ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

After a rocky start to the gathering, two candidates accepted the party's nomination for president: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former African Union commission chair and Zuma's ex-wife, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a wealthy businessman who has been increasingly critical of the president.

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. The currency is expected to be volatile on Monday. Delegates from around South Africa cast their ballots after repeated delays caused by disputes over who was entitled to vote.

Mr Ramaphosa will have to take tough decisions to restore investor confidence and will confront a number of obstacles that will make it hard to resuscitate the economy, according to Ben Payton, head of Africa Research at Verisk Maplecroft, a Bath, England-based risk-advisory company. It was not clear when the outcome would be announced.

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Soaring unemployment and state corruption have fuelled frustration at the ANC among millions of poor black South Africans who face dire housing, inadequate education and continuing racial inequality.

"South Africa's chance for huge change is here and Ramaphosa is in a position now to prove to the electorate and to investors that he can bring that change", said Simon Quijano-Evans, strategist at Legal & General Investment Management in London. 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", Susan Booysen, a political analyst at the University of Witwatersrand's School of Governance in Johannesburg told Reuters. "Even if there is a strong lead in terms of branch nominations by the Ramaphosa camp, it's not clear-cut".

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