South African markets strengthen on prospects of a Zuma exit

Silke said Zuma was a "festering wound" for the ANC, and Ramaphosa had to move rapidly to reassure global investors and rating agencies that the party was changing course.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that the clock is ticking on president Jacob Zuma's scandal-ridden administration.

While the ruling African National Congress's top leadership has decided that Zuma, 75, must leave office - to win back voters and stoke investor confidence in the stagnant economy - without setting a deadline, newly elected party leader Ramaphosa and his supporters have moved decisively on two other fronts.

"We have not arrived at the decision that Zuma must go, or Zuma must not go", ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule told a news conference on the outcome of a four-day ANC meeting that ended on Sunday.

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Although Cyril Ramaphosa was elected by ANC National Conference delegates, many outside that conference hoped he would defeat Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma because he represented a potential beginning of the defeat of the various strands of Jacob Zuma's rule, affecting not only the ANC but the state itself.

Zuma's departure would make it easier for Ramaphosa to revitalise the economy and tackle corruption.

"Officials were seized with this matter, and officials will remain to be seized with this matter".

It could also boost the party's electoral chances next year because it would no longer be so closely associated with Zuma's legacy.

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The rand has rallied to a 2-1/2 year high since union leader-turned-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa won the ANC leadership on December 18 as investors bet he would crack down on corruption and implement policy reforms.

The ANC has repeatedly said it hasn't reached a decision on the matter.

"It is as if Cyril is confirming that he has taken over the reins", said Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of Witwatersrand's School of Governance.

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  • Theresa Obrien