Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election as ANC president appealed to market sentiment, with the rand strengthening by more than 2% against the dollar, and some analysts pinning their hopes on long-awaited Ramaphosa-led change boosting South Africa’s economic prospects.

Ramaphosa got 2 476 votes against 1 897 for his rival, former health minister Zweli Mkhize, a significantly larger majority than in the 2017 elective conference when Ramaphosa won with 2 440 votes against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s 2 261.

Fin24 reported that the rand, which opened trade at R17,55 to the greenback, was changing hands at R17,22 just after noon on the news that Ramaphosa had won a second term. 

The rand also strengthened by more than 1% against the pound and the euro. 

Reuters reported that although Ramaphosa’s re-election campaign was dogged by the ‘Farmgate’ scandal involving large sums of foreign currency found hidden at his private game farm, the President ‘shrugged it off … by cementing his position as the country’s most popular politician’.

According to Reuters, analysts have said the ANC’s reformist agenda and its ability to introduce some necessary changes were at stake, with markets widely pinning hopes on a Ramaphosa victory.

In its take on the strengthening of the rand after Ramaphosa’s victory, the Mail & Guardian said the outcome ‘has seemingly eased market uncertainty about the ANC’s policy trajectory’.

The Mail & Guardian reported: ‘The ANC’s elections saw Ramaphosa coming up against the so-called radical economic transformation faction, which critics feared would steer the governing party off course, hamstringing the implementation of economic reforms.

‘Investors recently signalled their support for a Ramaphosa presidency after the release of parliament’s section 89 panel report on the Phala Phala scandal and rumours the president may resign. The rand tumbled 4% and bond yields spiked to their highest levels since 2020.’

In a note released just before the ANC’s 55th elective conference got underway at Nasrec, the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) said that, ‘in isolation’, a Ramaphosa victory ‘should strengthen his hand to accelerate the reform agenda during the second term’.

‘However,’ the BER added, ‘… there is greater uncertainty about whether as a collective, the new ANC leadership will be reform minded.’