South African president Cyril Ramaphosa received the most votes from branches of the ruling African National Congress heading into the party’s December elective conference, boosting his chances of securing a second five-year term as state president.
The ANC on Tuesday released the final list of nominees for its top six positions – among them party president, deputy president and secretary general – for its powerful national executive committee (NEC) ahead of the national conference to be held between Dec. 16 and Dec. 20.
Whoever emerges as party president would become state president, should the ANC secure majority in a general election due in 2024.
The ANC said 3,543 out of a total 3,982 branches in good standing held meetings to select its top six candidates.
Ramaphosa, who replaced his predecessor Jacob Zuma as state president in 2018 by pledging to overcome rampant state corruption, got 2,037 votes from branches but can still face challengers nominated from the floor, officials said.
“As you know at conference there will be an opportunity for delegates to nominate from the floor … of course any candidate that musters 25% of voting delegates will then also be included on the ballot paper,” said Kgalema Motlanthe, the ANC electoral head told a media briefing.
According to the ANC, Ramaphosa comfortably beat Zweli Mkhize, former health minister who resigned after being implicated in corruption allegations linked to departmental work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mkhize has denied any wrongdoing.
A union leader turned businessman, Ramaphosa is widely viewed as the ANC’s best chance to improve its performance at the 2024 general elections, and arrest a decline in electoral support that sank below 50% in last year’s municipal polls for the first time since South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s journey
Cyril Ramaphosa is the current President of South Africa, having taken office after the resignation of Jacob Zuma in February 2018. He is a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and was elected as ANC President at the party’s 54th National Conference in December 2017. Ramaphosa is also the former Deputy President of South Africa, serving under Jacob Zuma from 2014 to 2018.
Ramaphosa was born in 1952 in Johannesburg, into a poor family. He became involved in student politics while studying law at the University of Witwatersrand and was active in the anti-apartheid movement. He was arrested and imprisoned on Robben Island in 1976, before being released in 1990.