Cyril Ramaphosa greets an ANC member during the party conference in Johannesburg on Monday. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters.

By Jason Burk in Johannesburg.

Cyril Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid activist turned tycoon and politician, has been chosen by the African National Congress as its leader for the next five years.

The battle to lead South Africa’s ruling party, which has been in power for 23 years but has been hit by declining support and a series of scandals, remained on a knife edge to the last minute.

Almost 5,000 delegates voted in an internal party election at a conference centre in Johannesburg. Ramaphosa won with 2,440 votes to 2,261 for his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The delegates’ choice will almost certainly determine the next president of South Africa, due to be decided in an election in 2019, and the trajectory of the “rainbow nation” for decades to come.

The victory of Ramaphosa, 65, will come as a relief to those in South Africa who feared populist and potentially divisive policies from Dlamini-Zuma, a former senior minister and party stalwart who had promised “radical economic transformation”.

But it will disappoint those who believe Ramaphosa lacks the will to take measures needed to redistribute wealth and lift millions of people out of deep poverty.

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Kajunason Blog

Kajunason Blog

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