File picture: Philimon Bulawayo
JOHANNESBURG - The rand strengthened yesterday on hopes that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would win the race to become the next leader of the ANC at a party conference in less than two weeks’ time.

The race to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader is being closely watched by traders as it will determine the future policy trajectory for the country’s economy, which is grappling with credit rating downgrades and weak growth.

Ramaphosa is seen as more business-friendly than his main rival in the leadership contest, former cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was previously married to Zuma.

At 5pm, the rand bid at R13.6111 to the dollar, 8.85c firmer than at the same time on Friday.

Ramaphosa yesterday won the most nominations for party leader in Limpopo province.

“The good news coming through that Cyril Ramaphosa is getting a lot more support is possibly giving the rand a bit of an injection. Obviously markets view it as positive, but it is still a long way (to the conference),” said TreasuryOne currency dealer, Phillip Pearce.

Ramaphosa has more nominations for party leader than Dlamini-Zuma after eight of nine provinces revealed their nominations. But the largest province - KwaZulu-Natal - was yesterday afternoon yet to announce how its members voted and was expected to favour Dlamini-Zuma.

On the stock exchange, the benchmark JSE Top40 index gained 0.36% to 53076.58 points, while the all share index advanced 0.27% to 59607.34 points.

Bourse heavyweight Naspers led the gainers, rising 2.78% to R3629.97 after Deutsche Bank raised its target price.

Further gains were curbed by gold shares, which weakened on the back of bullion prices falling back towards four-week lows hit last week.

Sibanye lost 4.84% to R17.90, Gold Fields slid 2.5% to R56.19 and AngloGold Ashanti fell 3.59% to R134.56.

Impala Platinum retreated 7.49% to R36.31 while Glencore rose 1.12% to R62.99.

The yield on South Africa’s benchmark government bond due in 2026 was 2 basis points lower, reflecting marginally stronger overall bond prices.