Limpopo Province Backs Ramaphosa to Lead South Africa's ANC

(Bloomberg) -- South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa won the endorsement of a fifth province to succeed President Jacob Zuma as head of the ruling party, giving him a commanding lead in the nomination process with just one region still to declare its preference.

Ramaphosa was endorsed for the presidency of the African National Congress by 391 branches in Limpopo, while 104 backed his main rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, tallies released Monday at a party meeting in the northern town of Polokwane show. The province will account for about 12 percent of the 5,240 voting delegates at the ANC’s national conference that’s due to start Dec. 16, the fourth most of the nine regions.

Limpopo Province Backs Ramaphosa to Lead South Africa's ANC

While the branch nomination numbers are the best available indicator of who’s likely to win, they aren’t conclusive because some bigger branches are entitled to more than one delegate and there’s no guarantee delegates will vote as instructed.

The ANC’s new leader will be its presidential candidate in 2019 elections, which will bring an end to Zuma’s second term. The election campaign has caused deep rifts within the 105-year-old party, weighed on the rand and nation’s bonds and unnerved investors, who want political and policy clarity.

Rand Gains

The rand extended gains after the results from Limpopo province and was 0.8 percent stronger against the dollar at 13.6333 by 3:20 p.m. in Johannesburg. It was the best-performing major and emerging-market currency tracked by Bloomberg.

Besides Limpopo, the deputy president also secured nominations from the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, while Free State and North West backed Dlamini-Zuma. Mpumalanga, which will send the second-most delegates to the elective conference, is keeping its options open about who it will support, with almost half of its branches on Dec. 1 declining to name their candidate. Ramaphosa so far has 1,669 branches to 876 for Dlamini-Zuma, the former head of the African Union Commission.

Most ANC branches in Limpopo nominated Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as deputy president, Senzo Mchunu, the former premier of the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, for secretary-general and Paul Mashatile, the party’s Gauteng chairman, as treasurer-general.

Tallies from Dlamini-Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, which has the biggest ANC membership and about 17 percent of voting delegates, are due to be announced later Monday.

Limpopo Province Backs Ramaphosa to Lead South Africa's ANC

Zuma, who has led the ANC for the past decade and been implicated in a succession of scandals since taking office, has been campaigning for his ex-wife Dlamini-Zuma, 68, to succeed him. She’s echoed his call for “radical economic transformation” to place more of the country’s wealth in the hands of the black majority.

Most investors would prefer that Ramaphosa, 65, a lawyer, former labor-union leader and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, get the top job. He’s pledged to revive the ailing economy, reduce a 28 percent unemployment rate and combat corruption if elected.

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