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 embattled boss; President Jacob Zuma; and would lead the ANC into elections slated for 2019.
Ramaphosa polled 2440 votes as against 2261 received by his main rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in the tightly fought race.
Dlamini-Zuma, a former African Union Commission chairperson and minister in every government since the end of Apartheid, is an 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.
Ramaphosa, 65, has spoken out strongly against state corruption and has the backing of the business community. Dlamini-Zuma, 68, President Zuma’s preferred candidate, had been critical of the enduring power of White-owned businesses and had campaigned on pledges to tackle the racial inequality that has persisted since the end of Apartheid.
The rand currency had risen to a nine-month high as the market has welcomed a Ramaphosa victory.