S.Africa's ruling ANC re-elects Ramaphosa as party chief
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa smiles after being re-elected as the leader for the African National Congress (ANC) for the next five years, during the 55th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) at the National Recreation Center (NASREC) in Johannesburg on December 19, 2022. Ramaphosa garnered 2,476 votes for the post of party president against 1,897 for former health minister Zweli Mkhize, the African National Congress' elections chief, Kgalema Motlanthe, announced. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP)
(AFP) - South Africa's ruling ANC party on Monday re-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa as its leader for a second five-year term, despite a brewing scandal over a huge cash theft at his farm.
Ramaphosa garnered 2,476 votes for the post of party president against 1,897 for former health minister Zweli Mkhize, the African National Congress' elections chief, Kgalema Motlanthe, announced.
Ramaphosa's re-election opens the way to a second term as South Africa's president, as the ANC have an absolute majority in parliament, which selects the head of state.
More than 4,300 delegates, gathered at a conference near Johannesburg, cast their ballots on Sunday to appoint top officials, including party president, deputy president, chair and secretary general,
The party's former treasurer, Paul Mashatile, emerged deputy president.
Ramaphosa, 70, won the contest despite being mired in accusations that he concealed the burglary of a huge amount of cash at his upmarket cattle farm.
As the nation's vice president, he ascended to the ANC's top job in December 2017 as his boss Jacob Zuma battled a mounting corruption scandal.
The following February, Zuma was forced out by the ANC.
Ramaphosa took office vowing to be weed out endemic corruption and renew the party.
But his clean-hands image has been dented by the burglary scandal.
The affair has raised questions as to why he was in the possession of so much cash, and why he failed to report the theft to the authorities.
He won a reprieve ahead of the conference when the ANC used its majority in parliament to block a possible impeachment inquiry.
His rival Mkhize hails from the same region as Zuma, the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province which has the largest number of party delegates.
As health minister, the 66-year-old doctor was lauded for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
But his tenure ended abruptly when he resigned amid allegations his son and associates benefited from a 150-million-rand ($10.4-million) contract for a Covid awareness campaign. He denies any wrongdoing.
- ANC crisis -
The ANC has a storied history, renowned throughout the world for its decades-long struggle, led by Nelson Mandela, against apartheid.
The 110-year-old party has governed the country continuously since the advent of democracy in 1994.
But it has been battered by graft, cronyism, internal rifts and a moribund economy.
An organisational report presented at the conference showed that party membership had dropped by a third over the past five years. The next elections are due in 2024.
The conference is taking place while the country is buckling under a power crisis blamed on sabotage, theft and decrepit generating infrastructure.
The government on Saturday said it had begun deploying the military to protect power plants.
© Agence France-Presse