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UPDATE: Zuptoids ‘clean up’ in Free State – but court challenge throws spanner in works

JOHANNESBURG — (UPDATE: The High Court in Bloemfontein has ordered that the ANC’s Free State provincial conference not take place until lawful branch general meetings are held). It was pretty much a foregone conclusion given the key Zuptoid players involved in the Free State’s ANC leadership election and thus presidential endorsement race. So, it’s now a 2-1 provincial tally, (Western Cape and Eastern Cape), to Ramaphosa’s team as the remaining six provinces finalise their endorsements amid frantic political machinations and back-room lobbying. So far, a reading of analysis and commentary on who’s leading the race for the ANC’s top position tells you more about writer bias and hope than facts on the ground. Until the six remaining provinces emerge from their cloisters, legal challenges being the constant fly in the ointment, nobody really knows who is the front-runner. As has become usual, the losing ANC faction (this time in the Free State) plans to mount a legal challenge against the outcome. Meanwhile, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma continues to talk redistribution while Ramaphosa punts job creation, solving the country’s economic crisis and fighting corruption. But you could forget the following at your peril – their audiences are ordinary ANC elective conference delegates, not JSE-listed company executives. Is Zuma approaching his “Mbeki moment?” Nobody truly knows. — Chris Bateman

By Sam Mkokeli

(Bloomberg) — Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s bid to lead South Africa’s ruling African National Congress after her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma, steps down as party leader in December received a boost when a majority of branches from one of the nation’s nine provinces endorsed her.

Dlamini-Zuma beat her main rival, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Tuesday in branch endorsements by a 209 to 44 margin at a meeting in Parys in the central Free State province, according to three people familiar with the results. Ramaphosa has already won the backing of two provinces, while the remaining six are due to announce their preferences over the next seven days.

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The victory by Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission, was expected in Free State, one of three provinces in a rural bloc known as the Premier League that has helped her ex-husband thwart challenges sparked by multiple scandals that prompted calls from within the party for him to resign.

The ANC will begin a five-day elective conference on Dec. 16 in the nation’s economic hub, Johannesburg, to pick a new president and top party leaders. The winner of the leadership race will be its presidential candidate in a 2019 vote. The Free State’s delegates account for about 8 percent of a total of 5,240 delegates that will cast ballots in December.

Ramaphosa Boycott

Ramaphosa’s supporters largely boycotted the meeting and are challenging the province’s nomination process in court.

David Mabuza, the ANC’s chairman in Mpumalanga province, beat Lindiwe Sisulu in the nominations for the post of deputy president by a 204 to 28 margin, according to the people.

Read also: Mmusi isn’t happy about a Cyril-run ANC’s economic conversion – rest of South Africa will be.

The leadership battle has opened a deep rift in the ANC and pitted Ramaphosa and party veterans against Zuma, who’s been mired in allegations that the Gupta brothers have used their friendship with him to win state contracts. At stake at the conference is the choice of who will lead the party that’s won every election in Africa’s most-industrialized economy since Nelson Mandela led it to power after the end of apartheid in 1994.

The contest has paralyzed several government departments as officials delay decisions until they learn who the new leaders will be. Among the delays are a standoff on mining laws and telecommunications regulations.

Ramaphosa, 65, has called for a clampdown on corruption and is the clear favorite among investors, as well as labor unionists and the South African Communist Party. Dlamini-Zuma, 68, has echoed her ex-husband calls for “radical economic transformation” to give the black majority a bigger share of wealth in one of the world’s most unequal countries and has won support from the ANC’s women’s, youth and military veterans leagues.

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