To his supporters, Ramaphosa's business success makes him well-suited to the task of turning around an economy grappling with 28 percent unemployment and credit rating downgrades.'Early signs of a win for Cyril Ramaphosa, the more investor-friendly option, have provided support for the rand,' John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics, said.'But while Mr.
Ramaphosa is popular among party members, the result will be decided by political insiders, who may opt for his leftist opponent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.'Ramaphosa has recently stepped up criticism of Zuma's scandal-plagued government, while Dlamini-Zuma has said her priority is to improve prospects for the black majority.
The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa's only ruler since the end of apartheid, votes this weekend in a race too close to call to replace Jacob Zuma as party leader with the winner also likely to become the next president.
Speaking at a breakfast of businessmen and politicians at the venue of the ANC conference, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said South Africa's government would take 'necessary tough decisions' to stabilise public debt and grow the economy.On Friday evening, Zuma cracked jokes at an ANC dinner and said that leading the party had 'been a worthwhile experience', while adding he looked forward to stepping down.He is expected to be backed by ANC veterans, labour unions and civil society organisations.In contrast, Dlamini-Zuma is seen as a fierce campaigner against racial inequality whose hostility to big business has rattled investors in South Africa.'She has not made corruption the only pillar of her campaign, because the most critical issue in South Africa is this huge inequality,' said Carl Niehaus, a key member of Dlamini-Zuma's campaign.Zuma has faced allegations of undue influence in making cabinet appointments and awarding state tenders to his friends, the Gupta family.
Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.'People can't wait to see his back,' political analyst Prince Mashele said in a newspaper opinion piece.
He is expected to make a speech to launch the conference.
The 75-year-old has denied numerous corruption accusations since taking office in 2009 and has survived several no-confidence votes in parliament.
They will not vote on any matter,' ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told reporters.
ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine, who backs Dlamini-Zuma, said 122 delegates would be prevented from voting at the conference following the ruling by the courts. At the meeting venue, delegates in T-shirts in the gold and green colours of the ANC sang party songs and danced, with many waving party flags while women rent the air with ululations.
The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos.