The time has come for the critical ANC conference that sets in motion President Jacob Zuma's exit as South Africa's President in 2019.
The 54th ANC elective conference is a 4-day gathering of ANC delegates from across the country to elect a new leader as the ruling party readies for 2019 general elections.
This critical gathering will be closely watched by investors as the outcome will determine the future of the country's dwindling economy, which is grappling with poor growth and the credit downgrade by S&P Global ratings and Fitch to 'junk' status.
The Rand (ZAR) went on a downward spiral following allegations of corruption in Zuma's government, influence-peddling by his business friends, the ruling ANC'S failure to hold Zuma to account by supporting him throughout all 8 votes of no confidence against him.
Head-to-head in the race to replace Zuma is his Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa whose campaign is viewed as investor-friendly against former cabinet minister and Zuma's choice Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma whose priority is to improve the prospects for the black majority.
Leading by 1,862 nominations of the 3,800 ANC branches in good standing, Deputy President Ramaphosa has vowed to fight corruption that has plagued Zuma's tenure, revitalize the economy and unite the divided African National Congress. His rival Dlamini Zuma the President's choice and former wife received 1,309 nominations and the other 4 candidates in the race share the rest.
All 6 candidates in Zuma succession race have pledged to welcome the results of the election at a statehouse dinner with the President earlier this month.
The winner has big task ahead, to first ensure that ANC regains its declining majority and obliterate the factions that currently exist within the ANC. The liberation movement is under threat of a split as infighting intensified ahead of the much-anticipated conference. Already there have been three breakaways from the party since it took power in 1994 as factions broke away to form independent parties to contest elections against the ANC.
Secondly, Zuma's successor has a huge task of turning around the country's unemployment rate, which in the third quarter of 2017 is at 27.7%, highest in 13 years. The winner will also have to address investor's weary confidence in the once-booming rainbow nation's economy.
The conference runs from 16- 20 December 2017 in Nasrec, Johannesburg.