By Hassan Isilow
Hundreds of delegates of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) gathered Saturday in Johannesburg to choose new party leaders in a highly contested election.
Several candidates are contesting for the party helm, but the race has narrowed down to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union Commission Chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the ex-wife of the country's president and current ANC leader, Jacob Zuma.
Ramaphosa’s campaign has mostly revolved around anti-corruption and good governance.
Meanwhile, Dlamini-Zuma -- whose candidacy is favored by President Zuma -- has been telling supporters she will bring them economic freedom by redistributing land acquired from whites, a highly contentious issue as most of it still remains in the hands of white South Africans.
The ANC said Saturday that the new party leaders will be announced on Sunday. Whoever wins the election to become ANC president will almost certainly become the country’s next president.
Despite allegations of widespread corruption within the ANC, the party still enjoys majority support in the country.
President Zuma, 75, will step down from the ANC helm this weekend after serving as party leader for two terms.
He will continue as the country’s president until 2019 when his second five-year term comes to an end. His time in office has been marred by several allegations of corruption.
Addressing an ANC gala dinner on Friday night ahead of the gathering, Zuma said the ANC will emerge more united after the conference.
Some critics, on the contrary, have been predicting that the ANC might grow more divided after the conference, with some members splitting off to form their own parties.
The ANC has governed South Africa since the 1994 end of white minority rule, known as apartheid.