Ramaphosa, Sisulu to Support Winner of S. Africa's ANC Race

(Bloomberg) -- Cyril Ramaphosa, a leading contender to become the president of South Africa’s ruling party, will support whoever is elected to the top post at a conference this weekend, his running mate Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said.

“We would assist whoever it is that wins,” Sisulu said in an interview on Bloomberg Television Friday.

Sisulu and Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that they’ve agreed to work together in this weekend’s election of new leadership for the ruling African National Congress, which could boost both their chances of winning the two top posts. Ramaphosa is a leading candidate to succeed Jacob Zuma as president of the ANC, while Sisulu’s campaign for the same position didn’t gain traction.

Ramaphosa, the party and nation’s deputy president, is in a close race with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife, for control of the 105-year-old organization. The agreement with Sisulu, the daughter of party luminary Walter Sisulu, could bring in further support for him. The run-up to the vote by 5,240 delegates that’s scheduled for Dec. 17 has caused deep rifts in the ANC and unnerved investors seeking political and policy clarity.

The likelihood of a split in the party is probably the biggest in the ANC’s history, especially if Dlamini-Zuma beats Ramaphosa, according to analysts. The winner will also be the ANC’s presidential candidate in national elections in 2019.

Ramaphosa has pledged to fight corruption and revive a moribund economy to cut a 28 percent unemployment rate.

“If we don’t come together and take ourselves out of this situation, the economy would be in serious trouble,” Sisulu said. “Whoever wins, we’ve got our sights set on dealing with the economy.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.