South Africa’s ruling party elects Ramaphosa as leader

New African National Congress President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) celebrates on stage after winning the presidential race during the 54th ANC National Conference held at the NASREC Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday. Photo by Kim Ludbrook/EPA-EFE

Dec. 19 (UPI) — South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, chose Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as its leader Monday, setting the stage for the anti-apartheid activist and union supporter to become president.

Nearly 5,000 delegates voted to make Ramaphosa president of the ANC Party 2,440-2,261 over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President Jacob Zuma‘s ex-wife.

His selection as head of the ruling party means he’ll likely become president in the 2019 election, though it’s possible he could call for a recall vote for Zuma earlier. Although they belong to the same political party, Ramaphosa has been critical of Zuma, who faces allegations of corruption.

Ramaphosa was jailed multiple times during the 1970s for his anti-apartheid activism, and in 1982 launched the National Union of Mineworkers. He was the chairman of the National Reception Committee, which prepared for Nelson Mandela‘s release from prison.

He became deputy president in 2014. Zuma was elected to lead the ANC in 2007 and became president in 2009. It is common for the newly elected ANC president to become president.

“I am bowing out. I am very happy … I think from my own point of view I made my contribution,” Zuma said Monday.

The ANC has been South Africa’s ruling party for 23 years, but scandals in recent years have diminished support.


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