South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has elected deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader.
The former trade unionist and top businessman will replace his boss embattled President Jacob Zuma and would lead the ANC into elections slated for 2019.
Ramaphosa polled 2440 votes as against 2261 received by his biggest rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former African Union commission chairperson and ex-wife of the outgoing president.
Zuma’s presidency, tainted by graft accusations that he denies, has tarnished the image of 105-year-old liberation movement, and raised the prospect of splits.
As ANC leader, Ramaphosa is likely to become the country’s next president after elections in 2019. He smiled and hugged other party officials on Monday as the results were read out.
Dlamini-Zuma, 68, the president’s preferred candidate, had campaigned on pledges to tackle the racial inequality that has persisted since the end of white-minority rule.
The rand currency had risen to a nine-month high of 12.5200 earlier, in as the market priced in a Ramaphosa victory. Government bonds also closed firmer before announcement that Ramaphosa had won the race.