Monday 21 January 2019

Ramaphosa takes helm as new South African president

New South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Reuters
New South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Reuters

Krista Mahr

South Africa's parliament elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the country's new president yesterday, after Jacob Zuma resigned in a late-night television address.

Mr Ramaphosa was elected without a vote after being the only candidate nominated in the parliament in Cape Town, chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng told assembled lawmakers.

The African National Congress (ANC), which has a large majority in parliament, nominated Mr Ramaphosa, a wealthy former businessman, "to be elected as the new president of the Republic of South Africa".

After being voted in, Mr Ramaphosa used his first speech in office to vow to fight government corruption, in a direct reference to accusations levelled against his predecessor.

"Issues to do with corruption, issues of how we can straighten out our state-owned enterprises and how we deal with 'state capture' are issues that are on our radar screen," he said.

Mr Zuma resigned on Wednesday as the ANC finally turned against him after a nine-year reign dominated by corruption scandals, economic slowdown and plummeting electoral popularity.

Mr Zuma railed against the ANC for "recalling" him from office and - when he at first refused to resign - then threatening to oust him via a parliament no-confidence vote.

Earlier, he said he received "very unfair" treatment from the party that he joined in 1959 and in which he had fought for decades against apartheid white-minority rule.

Mr Zuma had been in a power struggle with Mr Ramaphosa, his deputy president since 2014. Mr Zuma's hold over the ANC was broken in December when his chosen successor - his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - narrowly lost to Mr Ramaphosa in a vote for the new party leader.

Wednesday's dramatic day in South Africa began with a dawn raid on a home of the wealthy Gupta family, who are implicated in corruption allegations against Mr Zuma.

South Africa's chief prosecutor yesterday said Ajay Gupta, one of the three Gupta brothers accused of corrupt links to the ousted president, was now a "fugitive from justice" after he failed to hand himself in to police. The Guptas have previously denied allegations of corruption, some of which claimed they benefited from 'state capture' during Mr Zuma's tenure.

© Daily Telegraph London

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