“Am casting my vote for comrade Ramaphosa for ANC President,” National Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said on Twitter early Monday. “Whatever happens I trust he will restore confidence and inspire hope.”
For the last three days, more than 4,700 party delegates from around the country have been hunkered down to prepare for the historic decision to elect the next leader of Nelson Mandela’s bruised liberation struggle.
Delegates waited for nearly two hours in a large conference hall awaiting the results, with Mr Zuma taking the podium to sing a few tunes to pass the time, much to the crowd’s delight.
Finally, a spokesperson for the election agency that conducted the vote announced Mr Ramaphosa had beat Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, former African Union commission chair, for the party’s top job by 179 votes. “We declare Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa as the new president of the African National Congress,” she said.
The 105-year-old party’s reputation has suffered in recent years as a series of high-profile scandals and corruption allegations has hit Mr Zuma and his allies. In 2016, the party had its worst-ever showing in local elections, dipping below 60% for the first time in the party’s history.
Party leaders, including Mr Zuma, have acknowledged those serious challenges during the gathering this week, particularly the factionalism that has deepened divisions within the party in recent months.
In his last speech as party president on Saturday, Mr Zuma urged ANC members to accept the choice that the party would make this week. “No matter how strong you felt about the candidate, once the branches of the ANC have made their choice, you have to respect that and agree to be led.”