December 18, 2012 / 11:51 AM / 5 years ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-S. Africa's ANC re-elects Zuma as party president

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa, Dec 18 (Reuters) - South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) re-elected President Jacob Zuma as leader of the party on Tuesday, teeing him up for another seven years as head of state, and it chose businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as his deputy.

More than 4,000 ANC delegates crammed into a marquee in the central city of Bloemfontein erupted into wild cheers when Zuma was confirmed in the top party post after comfortably seeing off a challenge by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

A beaming Zuma then walked on stage to shake hands with his colleagues and members of the party’s election commission.

The rand edged higher against the dollar after the announcement, reflecting relief among investors in Africa’s biggest economy at the likelihood of policies remaining largely unchanged under Zuma.

The return to frontline politics of Ramaphosa - an anti-apartheid union leader who his now South Africa’s second-richest black businessman - is also seen as broadly favourable to business and investment.

Zuma came to power in 2009 in the teeth of South Africa’s first recession in 18 years. His economic record has been chequered and he has also been dogged by personal scandals, but his popularity within Nelson Mandela’s 100-year-old liberation movement is overwhelming.

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