DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The African National Congress - this is the liberation movement that fought the apartheid government and eventually won control of South Africa in democratic elections - they are selecting a new leader today. And Peter Granitz has more from Johannesburg.
PETER GRANITZ, BYLINE: Thousands of ANC delegates from across South Africa are gathering in Johannesburg to elect a new party leader. The voting is done in private but the distinctly South African campaigning is done in public. Clad in the yellow, green and black of the ANC flag, they sing songs on the hall floor, struggle songs that hearken back to the apartheid era and songs in support of their preferred candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in foreign language).
GRANITZ: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has the backing of more party branches than former government minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She's expected to win support from the women's and youth leagues. Lerato Beaula (ph), a delegate from the North West province, supports Dlamini-Zuma.
LERATO BEAULA: She knows the sufferings of the South Africans.
GRANITZ: Policy details and discussions have been scant during the campaign. Analysts assumed Dlamini-Zuma, a medical doctor who was married to President Zuma before divorcing, would pursue a more populist economic agenda, one she calls radical economic transformation. Investors hope Ramaphosa wins. He left politics in the 1990s and amassed a fortune in the private sector. The winner of the ANC race will be the party's nominee for president of the country in 2019.
President Zuma will remain the country's president until then, unless the new ANC president chooses to recall him. Zuma's tenure as ANC president has been disastrous for the party. Since he seized control of the ANC in 2007, the party has seen its electoral advantage dwindle in each election. Political analyst Susan Booysen says the ANC has declined because of voter discontent with Zuma's seemingly endless string of corruption scandals.
SUSAN BOOYSEN: With a view not just to be true in the longer term, to ANC serving the people and not themselves but also with a view to the 2019 national elections in South Africa where People will really be looking at a new page in the ANC being turned.
GRANITZ: That new page could be a humbling election where the ANC loses its outright majority and needs to form a coalition for the first time, or worse yet, an election where the party loses its majority and for the first time in democratic South Africa, finds itself out of power.
For NPR News, I'm Peter Granitz in Johannesburg.
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