South Africa's biggest union group backs Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma

South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and President Jacob Zuma listen to the national anthem at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa February 11, 2016. Credit: Yahoo/Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa saw his chances of becoming South Africa‘s next leader increase on Thursday when a powerful union group backed him to succeed President Jacob Zuma as head of the ruling party.

Zuma is expected to stand down as African National Congress (ANC) president at a party conference in December next year, ahead of national elections in 2019 when his tenure as president will end.

Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid leader popular with investors, is likely to face strong competition if he does throw his hat in the ring, including from Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is head of the African Union.

No one has declared an ambition to compete but unofficial jockeying has begun and the debate over who should succeed Zuma has heated up since the ANC suffered its worst local election results in August, exposing party divisions.

Read more: South Africa’s biggest union group backs Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma

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