Zuma wins ANC leadership contest
South African president Jacob Zuma won a landslide victory in the African National Congress’s leadership contest yesterday, opening the way for him to govern the country until 2019.
Mr Zuma (70) secured 75.1 per cent of the 3,977 votes cast by ANC delegates at the ruling party’s elective conference in Bloemfontein, beating the only other candidate, his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe.
The Zulu traditionalist from KwaZulu-Natal province is now likely to extend his term as South African president, as the leader of the party that wins the 2014 general election automatically becomes the country’s next premier. The ANC has won every general election since 1994.
His adversary, Mr Motlanthe, whose campaign was lacklustre at best, seems destined for the political wilderness, having pulled out of the race for the deputy president position to focus on the bigger prize.
Voting ran smoothly even though police on Monday foiled an alleged plot by white extremists to kill the ANC’s leadership at the conference.
Four men were charged with treason yesterday morning at a hearing in Bloemfontein. State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said they wanted to establish an independent Boer nation and carry out an assault against senior ANC officials at the summit. The plan included launching a mortar bomb attack on ANC marquees and an assault targeting Mr Zuma and cabinet ministers as they ate dinner, Mr Abrahams said.
Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa won the race to be ANC’s deputy president, easily beating rivals Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa.
Although the poll showed that Mr Zuma was by far the most popular candidate for the leadership among ANC delegates, a survey shows he is well behind Mr Motlanthe in terms of public popularity.
The TNS South Africa poll showed Mr Motlanthe’s approval ratings at 70 per cent, compared to Mr Zuma’s 52 per cent. The latter’s standing has been hit in recent years by allegations of corruption and a series of sex scandals.
The rand strengthened slightly against the dollar on the back of the election result, with fears over labour unrest and the spectre of nationalisation assuaged somewhat by the election of Mr Ramaphosa, a former trade unionist.