Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma Picture: ANA

Johannesburg - The African National Congress' Women's League ( ANCWL) on Monday pleaded to be given the opportunity to formulate a proper reaction to the defeat of their preferred candidate Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at ongoing 54th elective conference underway in Johannesburg. 

"Allow the women to have a proper discussion, and a proper response so that the response will really reflect what has happened out there as [far as] they [Women's League] are concerned," Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu told reporters who had mobbed ANCWL leader Bathabile Dlamini.

The ANCWL president declined to talk, prompting Zulu to chip in as they emerged from a closed door meeting. 

"All I'm asking is that please stop chasing them. Give them an opportunity to really sit back. As you can see we are sitting back in there, we are working on something. You will be briefed as soon as that is done."

Zulu however stated that the women's section of the ANC was not seeking a recount of the votes cast in the tightly contested leadership race.

"If we wanted that, according to the ANC constitution, we would have done it in the hall [where the results were announced]. We are not there," said Zulu as she walked away. 

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 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 reform and renewal in the former liberation movement that has governed South Africa since 1994.

African News Agency/ANA