The ANC is currently a party plagued by scandal with corruption allegations dating back to Jacob Zuma’s election in 2009.
He denies the allegations, but it has caused a rift in the party.
So what could the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as leader mean for the ANC? Associated Press’ acting Africa editor, Andrew Meldrum, spoke to Euronews journalist Sarah Taylor.
Sarah Taylor, Euronews:
"Ramaphosa, campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket, won by a very tight margin of just 179 votes. What does he need to do to reunite the ANC and to gain the backing of the almost 50 percent of party members who voted for his opponent?"
Andrew Meldrum, acting Africa editor, Associated Press:
“Cyril Ramaphosa is an experienced politician and negotiator and he’s going to have to use all of his talents to bring the party together and to have it act effectively.
"The ANC faces elections in 18 months’ time – the national elections – and for Ramaphosa to win as president and for the party to retain its control of parliament, the party is going to really have to show that it is governing more effectively and taking action to eradicate the corruption that crept in, that really swamped – that started to creep in and just swamped – the presidency of Jacob Zuma.
"And Ramaphosa’s going to need all his skills because he won by a very narrow margin and also in the ANC leadership around him half of them are supporters of Jacob Zuma. So it’s going to be a very tricky time for him.”
"Battle lines were very clearly drawn as the vote took place. Some senior party members shared how they voted on Twitter. But the party has, historically, been quite private about its internal affairs. Why do you think there’s been such a break with tradition this time?"
“What was very interesting is that party leaders used social media to say how they voted and they advertised this before the results were out - and on both sides of the divide. Some who said they’d voted for Ramaphosa and others who said they’d voted for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the party has always been very secretive before and I think it is because these people were known to be enthusiastic supporters of the two sides and then I think with the advent of social media the saw there’s a good way to continue campaigning for their chosen candidate.”
"We know that Cyril Ramaphosa, as the new party leader, is likely to become South Africa’s next president when general elections come round in 2019. That’s over a year away. What’s the feeling about Ramaphosa among South Africans right now? Is there popular support for him? What does he need to do – if anything - to win over voters?"
“Yes, he is a popular candidate. One thing that we can see is that in the business community, he’s a very popular candidate and just on the strength of reports that he was going to win the ANC leadership the rand strengthened significantly yesterday. Strengthening so that it’s the strongest position it’s been I think since March of this year. So, the business community likes him very much.
"But, I think what is most important is, of course, amongst the general population and that is a little bit harder to quantify. He’s well-known from his years as a trade union leader and also from being a key negotiator to bring about the end of apartheid.
"However, he has been out of the political fray for many years and he has become a wealthy businessman – very wealthy – and his reputation has been tarnished by the fact that he was a board member of the Lonmin Mining Group at the time that the Marikana killings took place in 2012, when 34 striking miners were shot dead by police. So, he is not a shiny… His reputation is not completely sterling. Many people feel that he was tarnished by that incident.”
"In last year’s local elections, the ANC polled its worst result since taking power. If the party were to split, what is this likely to mean for the two new parties’ or movements prospects in 2019? And what about South Africa’s stability, moving forward?"
“I don’t see the party splitting in the next year, or before the elections. I see that there will be turf battles within the party. That started more than a year ago and I think it will continue, but I don’t think that the party will split.
"What Rampaphosa’s challenge is going to be is to pull together enough people who support him and who support his way of governing to then put forward a compelling front of the party for the national election. As you said, in the local elections recently, last year, the ANC just pulled 54 (or something) percent and it lost control of Johannesburg, the largest city in the country. It lost control of Pretoria, the capital. It still does not have control of Cape Town, which is a very important urban centre. So, there is a lot of talk of the ANC becoming a rural–based party and that’s where it will have the largest amount of its support.”