South Africa’s New President Vows Anti-Corruption Fight

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South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Thursday used his first speech in office to vow to fight government corruption, in a direct reference to accusations levelled against his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa, in brief remarks to parliament ahead of his first state of the nation address expected on Friday, said he would work hard “not to disappoint the people of South Africa”.

“The issues that you have raised, issues that have to do with corruption, issues of how we can straighten out our state-owned enterprises and how we deal with state capture (influence-peddling) are issues that are on our radar screen,” he said..

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“Tomorrow we will also have an opportunity to outline some of the steps we are going to be taking,” Ramaphosa said.

ANC lawmakers hailed his appointment as president with songs, dancing and a standing ovation.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presided over the parliamentary election and congratulated Mr Ramaphosa, who had been Mr Zuma’s deputy and in December was narrowly elected leader of the ruling party over Mr Zuma’s ex-wife.

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Mr Zuma resigned after years of scandals that damaged the reputation of the ruling ANC, which had instructed him this week to step down or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence that he would almost certainly lose. Mr Zuma denies any wrongdoing.

Hours before announcing his resignation, Zuma said he had received “very unfair” treatment from the ANC, which he joined in 1959 and in which he had fought for decades against white-minority rule.

He said he was angered over “the manner in which the decision is being implemented… I don’t agree, as there is no evidence of if I have done anything wrong.”

Ramaphosa, who will be president until elections next year, faces an uphill battle to earn back public and investor support.

But his stated commitment to boosting growth and stamping out graft has gone down well with foreign investors and ANC members who felt Zuma’s handling of the economy could seriously damage the party in the 2019 election.

Julius Malema, leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led his party in a mass walkout from parliament on Thursday, saying it would not take part in the election of a new president so as not to legitimize an ANC candidate.

The EFF, which has six percent of the seats in parliament, had sponsored a no-confidence motion in Zuma that would have gone ahead on Thursday had Zuma not jumped.

The foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late anti-apartheid icon and first black South African president Nelson Mandela said Zuma’s departure brought to an end “a painful era for the country”.

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