South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Tuesday re-elected President Jacob Zuma as the party chief with a thumping majority, effectively paving the way for him to retain the presidency until 2017 if the ANC wins general elections in 2013.
70-year-old Mr. Zuma received the support of over 75 per cent of the total voting delegates at the ANC National Conference held in Bloemfontein.
However, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was ousted and replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa, one of the architects of the new South African Constitution which saw Nelson Mandela become the country’s first democratically-elected President in 1994.
Mr. Motlanthe had decided to oppose Zuma for the Presidency, but got only 991 votes against Zuma’s 2984 from the voting delegates from across the country that have converged on Bloemfontein for the Conference hosted every five years. In Bloemfontein, the ANC also ended its centenary celebrations.
Mr. Ramaphosa got an overwhelming 3,108 votes to clinch the position of Deputy President, while concern is being expressed about the future of Mr. Motlanthe, who technically is still Deputy President of the country until his term of office ends in 2013.
Analysts believe that he will be recalled before that, as it may be difficult for the relationship between him and Mr. Zuma to continue after Mr. Motlanthe decided to oppose him.
During the previous National Conference of the ANC, then serving President Thabo Mbeki was ousted in a move that caught his entire camp by surprise.
Mr. Mbeki had earlier dismissed Mr. Zuma from the Deputy President’s office, citing the corruption charges that Mr. Zuma was facing, but these charges were later withdrawn in circumstances that are still being challenged by opposition parties today.
Mr. Motlanthe replaced Mbeki as interim president of South Africa until Mr. Zuma was appointed to the position a year later.
The conference will now discuss policy issues for the next two days, with business keenly monitoring proposals on issues such as nationalisation of the mining industry and social transformation.