The US-based fast food chain Burger King will open its first branch in South Africa early next year, local partners announced on Thursday, setting up a new battleground in the war with rival McDonald's.

"Now is the time to develop the brand in South Africa," said Grand Parade Investments executive Jose Cil as he announced the decision to establish a branch in Cape Town.

The South African firm -- which has made much of its cash from casinos and slot machines -- has secured the Burger King franchise in this meat-crazy nation, which is also Africa's largest economy.

But Burger King will face stiff, and well connected, competition.

McDonald's has been in the country since 1995 and is controlled by ANC big-wig Cyril Ramaphosa.