Presidential contender Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma claps as Cyril Ramaphosa is announced as the new president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). VIDEO: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

Cyril Ramaphosa, the man former president Nelson Mandela said was his preferred successor, on Monday won the presidency of the ANC after a fractious battle with former African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa won with 2,440 votes to Dlamini-Zuma’s 2,261, indicating not only the closeness of the race but also the deep divisions within the party after 10 years under President Jacob Zuma as leader.

The rand soared to its highest level against major currencies in months as news broke of Ramaphosa’s victory.

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, who had been squarely in Dlamini-Zuma’s camp, beat Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu with 2,538 votes to 2,159 in the race for the deputy presidency of the party.

Outgoing secretary general Gwede Mantashe was elected as chairman of the party. His former position went to Free State Premier Ace Magashule, who along with Mabuza, could test Ramaphosa’s skills as a political negotiator and unifier of a party that earlier on Monday acknowledged deep concern at its declining support at the polls.

Long-time Zuma loyalist Jessie Duarte was re-elected deputy secretary general with 2,474 votes to Zingiswa Losi’s 2,213, while Paul Mashatile, a former Gauteng premier and arts minister has become treasurer-general.

Mashatile was seen as part of “Team Ramaphosa” going into the conference and has stressed the need for revival in the ANC.

– African News Agency