The Latest: South Africa leader notes ‘enormous challenges’

South Africa’s scandal-prone president says “we must attend to enormous challenges facing our movement” as the ruling party meets to replace him as leader.

South Africa Leadership Fight

Delegates wait for the delayed start of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in Johannesburg, Saturday, Dec. 16 2017. The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

President Jacob Zuma is addressing the gathering whose choice of leader likely will become the country’s next president in 2019 elections.

Growing anger at the numerous allegations of corruption against Zuma has weakened the liberation movement of Nelson Mandela.

Observers warn that if the ANC doesn’t repair its reputation it could split and be forced into a coalition government for the first time since taking power in 1994 at the end of white minority rule.

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4:30 p.m.

South Africa’s ruling party conference to choose a new leader is beginning with emotional calls for unity in the face of tensions that threaten to split the liberation movement of Nelson Mandela.

“Anything divisive, comrades, will not be allowed in this conference,” the chair of the African National Congress, Baleka Mbete, tells the thousands of delegates.

They have gathered to replace President Jacob Zuma, whose multiple scandals have led to growing frustration in sub-Saharan Africa’s most developed nation.

Observers warn that if the ANC doesn’t repair its reputation it could split and be forced into a coalition government for the first time since taking power in 1994 at the end of white minority rule.

3:35 p.m.

The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma has begun as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress meet to elect a new leader.

The reputation of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement has been battered during the tenure of Zuma, whose second term as party president is up. The new ANC leader is likely to become South Africa’s next president in 2019 elections.

The two clear front-runners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chair of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife.

Voters are frustrated with the ANC as Zuma’s administration has been mired in scandal. Observers say the party needs to restore its reputation or it could be forced into a governing coalition for the first time.

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11:10 a.m.

The start of a crucial meeting of South Africa’s ruling party has been delayed.

Organizers say the African National Congress gathering to replace scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma now will begin at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT).

The reputation of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement has been battered during the tenure of Zuma, whose second term as party president is up.

The new ANC leader is likely to become South Africa’s next president in 2019 elections, but observers say the party needs to restore its reputation or it could be forced into a governing coalition for the first time.

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10 a.m.

The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma is set to begin as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gather to elect a new leader.

The reputation of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement has been battered during the tenure of Zuma, whose second term as party president is up. The new ANC leader is likely to become South Africa’s next president in 2019 elections.

The two clear front-runners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chair of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife.

Voters are frustrated with the ANC as Zuma’s administration has been mired in scandal and corruption allegations. Observers say the party needs to restore its reputation or it could be forced into a governing coalition for the first time.

Front runner and former wife of President Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and delegates wait for the delayed start of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in Johannesburg, Saturday, Dec. 16 2017. The fight to replace South Africa's scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Front runner and former wife of President Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and delegates wait for the delayed start of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in Johannesburg, Saturday, Dec. 16 2017. The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

Delegates wait for the delayed start of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in Johannesburg, Saturday, Dec. 16 2017. The fight to replace South Africa's scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Delegates wait for the delayed start of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in Johannesburg, Saturday, Dec. 16 2017. The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

FILE  - In this Wednesday, July 5, 2017 file photo South Africa's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, takes a selfie at the end of the ANC's policy conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the African National Congress meets this weekend to choose a successor to scandal-ridden President Jacob Zuma, the race between his deputy and ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma threatens to split Nelson Mandela's legacy. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe. File)

FILE – In this Wednesday, July 5, 2017 file photo South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, takes a selfie at the end of the ANC’s policy conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the African National Congress meets this weekend to choose a successor to scandal-ridden President Jacob Zuma, the race between his deputy and ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma threatens to split Nelson Mandela’s legacy. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe. File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 5, 2017 file photo former African Union Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, attends a ruling-party policy conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the African National Congress meets this weekend to choose a successor to scandal-ridden President Jacob Zuma, the race between his deputy and ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma threatens to split Nelson Mandela's legacy. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

FILE – In this Wednesday, July 5, 2017 file photo former African Union Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, attends a ruling-party policy conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the African National Congress meets this weekend to choose a successor to scandal-ridden President Jacob Zuma, the race between his deputy and ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma threatens to split Nelson Mandela’s legacy. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

FILE -- In this Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 file photo, South African President Jacob Zuma, attends the declaration announcement of the municipal elections in Pretoria, South Africa. As the African National Congress meets this weekend to choose a successor to scandal-ridden Zuma, the race between his deputy and ex-wife threatens to split Nelson Mandela's legacy. (AP Photo/Herman Verwey, File)

FILE — In this Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 file photo, South African President Jacob Zuma, attends the declaration announcement of the municipal elections in Pretoria, South Africa. As the African National Congress meets this weekend to choose a successor to scandal-ridden Zuma, the race between his deputy and ex-wife threatens to split Nelson Mandela’s legacy. (AP Photo/Herman Verwey, File)

 

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