South Africa’s African National Congress has begun voting to choose a new party chief – a person likely to succeed President Jacob Zuma in 2019 elections. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are the only two candidates on the ballot.
As Peter Granitz reports for Morning Edition from Johannesburg, Ramaphosa, who left politics in the 1990s and amassed a fortune in the private sector, is backed by investors and Dlamini-Zuma, his opponent, is expected to win support from the women’s and youth leagues.
“Policy details and discussions have been scant during the campaign,” Peter reports. “Analysts assume Dlamini Zuma, a medical doctor who was married to President Zuma before divorcing, would pursue a more populist economic agenda, one she calls ‘radical economic transformation.'”
An ANC official told reporters that voting among the more than 4,700 delegates would likely last through the night into Monday morning, according to The Associated Press.
It is a pivotal moment for the ANC, the 105-year-old freedom movement once led by President Nelson Mandela in the fight against apartheid. However, Zuma’s two terms have been marred by scandal and accusations of corruption.
As NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reported last week, Zuma “stands accused of patronage and allowing state capture — as it’s called here — letting powerful outside interests buy influence in government and even appoint and fire ministers, charges he denies.”
According to the AP:
“The conference on the outskirts of Johannesburg brings to an end President … Zuma’s two terms as head of the party.
Though either presidential candidate could still prevail, Ramaphosa had the edge after the nominations were announced, with the backing of 1,469 ANC branches, compared to Dlamini-Zuma’s 1,094. The Saturday night endorsement of Ramaphosa by Baleka Mbete, the party’s outgoing national chairwoman and a Zuma ally, also fueled speculation that the race may be swinging in the deputy president’s favor.”
Reuters adds: “On Saturday, Zuma announced plans to raise subsidies for tertiary colleges and universities, a move analysts said was timed to appeal to the party’s more populist members allied to Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman nominated as an ANC presidential candidate.”