After hours of vote counting, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was finally declared the new leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), replacing the South African President Jacob Zuma.
The announcement, which was made on Monday afternoon, had allegedly been delayed for several hours after the supporters of Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, who was contesting for the same position, demanded a vote recount.
Ramaphosa’s win sparked celebrations among party delegates inside the Nasrec Expo Centre and in the streets of Johannesburg as party supporters welcomed their new leader. At the plenary, delegates were elated as they chanted songs of victory, according to the BBC.
In a show of honor, Dlamini-Zuma, President Zuma’s ex-wife, walked to the stage and hugged Ramaphosa, who had just defeated her by less than 200 votes thus halting her dream of becoming the first female President of South Africa.
As the leader of the ruling party, 65-year-old Ramaphosa is poised to be the next President of South Africa since he will be carrying the party’s ticket in the next presidential elections slated for 2019.
Does He Have the Guts?
Although Ramaphosa has served as Deputy President under President Zuma since 2014, he has been touting himself as an anti-Zuma candidate, even promising to fight corruption, which has tainted Mr. Zuma’s 8-year reign.
Since he took power in 2009, President Zuma has been shrouded in major controversies and corruption scandals, some of which involved using public funds unlawfully to renovate his private castle and to finance his wives’ lavish lifestyle.
Many South Africans, including members of his own party, have been calling for his resignation and prosecution, with pundits suggesting that Ramaphosa’s victory could compel ANC to recall Zuma in the next few weeks.
But even as Ramaphosa, one of the richest men in South Africa, endeavors to succeed Zuma, he faces an enormous task of uniting South Africans and restoring the people’s confidence in the ANC, which fought for the country’s independence.
Secondly, he has to give South Africans a reason to trust in their government. The only way he can achieve this is by putting in place policies that will guarantee proper utilization of public resources and empower the office of the Auditor General to ensure it has the capacity to carry out meaningful audits that can help identify and prevent leakage of public resources.
Born in 1952 in Soweto, Johannesburg, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa has served in different regimes, including under Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa, with whom he had been detained by the colonial government during apartheid.
Many South Africans, especially members of the ANC, are hopeful that the veteran politician will bring a wealth of experience to his new role and help steer the country forward.