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SA’s Ramaphosa edges closer to re-election as ANC head

Ramaphosa’s backers have won clean sweeps in recent leadership contests in the Mpumalanga and East Cape provinces.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appears increasingly likely to retain his position as head of the ruling African National Congress in December as his allies continue to win control of key party structures.

The northern Limpopo province on Saturday re-elected Stan Mathabatha as its chairman, a post he has held for a decade. Mathabatha has said he favors Ramaphosa getting a second term — a position echoed by Dickson Masemola, who also vied for the top regional post.

Ramaphosa’s backers have won clean sweeps in recent leadership contests in the Mpumalanga and East Cape provinces. Opinion polls show the president is far more popular than the ANC, which has ruled the country since the end of apartheid in 1994, but is in danger of losing its national majority in a 2024 vote as discontent mounts over rampant unemployment, rising living costs and slipshod government services.

Under the ANC’s rules, whoever is elected party leader with also be its presidential candidate. A lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, the 69-year-old Ramaphosa has led the party since December 2017 and the country since February 2018 when Jacob Zuma was forced to quit after almost nine scandal-marred years in office.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Zweli Mkhize, who resigned as health minister last year after being implicated in a tender scandal, are among the possible challengers for the top ANC post.

There’s also an outside chance that Paul Mashatile, the ANC’s treasurer-general, may enter the race. He has been filling in for its Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who was suspended after being charged with graft, leaving him in charge of the day-to-day running of the party. Jessie Duarte, the ANC’s deputy secretary general, has been ill for several months and her post has been left vacant.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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