President Jacob Zuma. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

IT’S official: Jacob Zuma has retained the African National Congress (ANC) presidency for a second term, a victory that also puts him in line to keep the country’s top job after the 2014 national elections, the party’s electoral commission announced on Tuesday.

Mr Zuma obtained 2,983 votes, while his challenger, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, had 991 after 3,977 out of 4,076 accredited delegates voted overnight at the ANC’s Mangaung national conference. There were two spoiled ballots and one abstention.

ANC members gathered in the plenary marquee cheered loudly and broke into song after Mr Zuma’s victory was announced. They had to be called to order before the announcement of winners could continue.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu gave ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu a high-five after Mr Zuma’s landslide victory was announced.

National executive committee member and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as deputy president, obtaining 3,018 votes, while former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale obtained 470 and 463 votes, respectively.

Delegates again celebrated loudly after Mr Ramaphosa had been named as the winner.

This places Mr Ramaphosa in line for the presidency once Mr Zuma steps down from the party’s top spot in 2017.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe retained his position, triumphing over Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula with 3,058 to the latter’s 901.

Deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte was elected unopposed.

Chairwoman Baleka Mbete was re-elected to her position, obtaining 3,010 votes. She was challenged by former deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise, who received only 939 votes.

When Ms Mbete and Mr Mantashe were confirmed as the winners, delegates kept cheering loudly, singing and showing a sign meaning "change is dead".

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize trumped Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile, obtaining the position of treasurer-general position with 2,988 votes to Mr Mashatile’s 961.

The electoral commission is expected to take nominations for the national executive committee later on Tuesday. The NEC is the ruling party’s highest decision-making body between national conferences.

Zuma calls for unity

Mr Zuma adopted a conciliatory tone when he took to the stage shortly after he was re-elected, to appeal for unity following the contested leadership battle.

He diverted from the conference’s afternoon programme to appeal to delegates to treat each other with respect, irrespective of who they voted for.

“We agreed for members to have preferences. That is their democratic right ... Don’t just pay lip service to that, you must put it into practice,” he said.

“We agreed that contestation is part of our democratic culture,” he added, addressing ANC members as the party’s re-elected president for the first time. “Once elections take place and ANC branches have spoken ... the decision is the decision of all of us.”

The pro-Zuma “slate” emerged on top at Mangaung.

“We begin here to advance the fundamental principle of the ANC, the unity of the ANC,” Mr Zuma said. “You elected comrades to lead this organisation, it must be a united organisation ... Let’s handle each as comrades.”

He emphasised that both the winners and losers remained part of the ANC — and that all members should place the organisation, not individuals, first.

With Setumo Stone