Thursday 12 December 2019

South Africa’s new leader Ramaphosa set to address nation

The new president was elected by jubilant ruling party legislators on Thursday after the departure of Jacob Zuma.

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

By Christopher Torchia and Nqobile Ntshangase

South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa is preparing to give his first state of the nation address to a country with high expectations as he vows to curb corruption that flourished under his predecessor.

Mr Ramaphosa, elected by jubilant ruling party legislators on Thursday, returns to parliament in the evening to deliver the speech amid speculation that he might reshuffle his cabinet to remove ministers associated with alleged corruption at state-owned enterprises under Jacob Zuma.

The South African currency, the rand, has strengthened since Mr Ramaphosa’s ascent, but the new president faces the long-term problem of sluggish economic growth and unemployment of over 25%.

Mr Zuma resigned Wednesday, opening the way for Mr Ramaphosa to become South Africa’s fifth president since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

“I think it is going to be a new political era for South Africa, so every citizen will be interested in watching it so that they’ll know what the future is going to be,” said Xoliswa Makamola, a resident in Cape Town, where the speech will take place.

“He must just make sure that he comes out positive, win the people over,” another resident, Oracious Abrahams, said of the new president.

A lead negotiator in the transition from apartheid to democracy and one of South Africa’s most prominent businessmen, Mr Ramaphosa now leads a government anxious to shed months of political limbo and public frustration that weakened the reputation of the ruling African National Congress party.

PA Media

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