More than 4,000 delegates are expected to attend the 55th national elective conference of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress that kicked off in Johannesburg on Friday amid bitter divisions within the ranks of the party.The opening of the conference was delayed by several hours due to delays in the registration of delegates from the country’s nine provinces.
The delay saw party president Cyril Ramaphosa’s opening address being re-scheduled from 9am (0700 GMT) to late afternoon.
The conference, which is held every five years and is the ANC’s highest decision-making body, is expected to elect the party’s leadership and adopt key policies for governing the country.
Ramaphosa is seeking re-election as ANC leader and is expected to face the challenge of former health minister Zweli Mkhize and former African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Debate during the conference is expected to be overshadowed by factional battles within the ANC which have seen Ramaphosa’s fitness for office being challenged by his political rivals.
His opponents want him to step down following a corruption scandal in which he is accused of covering up a robbery that occurred at his farm over two years ago.
He is accused of failing to report the robbery to the police, with questions also raised about the source of the funds.
The conference runs until December 20.