As the wind of party democracy continues to blow around Africa, the ruling party in South Africa has elected Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the African National Congress (ANC)
Although the ANC congress looked acrimonious but well-planned, the Vice President of the country, Ramaphosa, emerged as the new leader of the party.
Mr. Ramaphosa was a protégé of Nelson Mandela, who pushed unsuccessfully to name him as his successor in the late 1990s. After a long wait, he is now poised to lead a party and nation that have been deeply tarnished by the eight-year rule of President Jacob Zuma.
As a skilled union organizer, Ramaphosa served as Mandela’s key negotiator in the talks that led to the end of apartheid in 1994.He was Mr. Mandela’s choice to become deputy president and eventually his successor as the nation’s leader. But at the end of Mandela’s regime, powerful forces of anti-apartheid leaders in exile pressed successfully for Thabo Mbeki.
Mr. Ramaphosa turned down Mr. Mandela’s offer to become foreign minister and eventually entered the private sector, though he remained on the A.N.C.’s national executive committee. .
The congress was attended by 4,800, but it was tainted by allegations of vote-buying and rigging.
About 2,440 voted for the 65-year-old businessman to edge out his closest rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, who is the ex-wife of incumbent, Jacob Zuma.
With his emergence as the leader of the ANC, Mr. Ramaphosa is expected to take over the leadership of the country from Mr. Zuma with the influence of ANC dominates the country’s parliament.
The vote also amounted to a rejection of Mr. Zuma, who had backed the other main contender, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a veteran politician and his former wife.
Mr. Ramaphosa had campaigned on increasing investment in the country and growing the country’s economy. He is the favourite of urban, middle-class members of the party.
Mr. Zuma, who will cease to be party leader this week but whose term as the country’s president will last until 2019, will leave his successor a number of problems, but one above all including tackling graft, acrimony and incompetence that has bedeviled the ANC
A Ramaphosa victory, experts and allies have said, will strengthen the A.N.C. before the elections in 2019.
Exploring his ties to the party, Mr. Ramaphosa quickly became one of the richest businessmen in the country and on the continent. He acquired interests in many areas, including South Africa’s McDonald’s restaurants, and served on a multitude of corporate boards.
Other newly-elelcted members of the party’s top echelon, Top Six, as they are called are: Deputy President: David Mabuza; Chairperson: Gwede Mantashe; Secretary General: Ace Magashule; Deputy Secretary General: Jessie Duarte; and Treasurer General: Paul Mashatile.
Myke Uzendu, Abuja