South Africa: Ramaphosa Takes Charge

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as South Africa’s president in a parliamentary vote on Thursday and pledged to tackle endemic corruption after scandal-ridden Jacob Zuma resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress, Reuters reports.

Ramaphosa faces an uphill battle in revitalising growth, creating jobs and stamping out a culture of graft in a nation still polarised by race and inequality more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule.

Still, Zuma’s departure late on Wednesday provided evidence of the strength of South Africa’s democratic institutions, from the courts to the media and the constitution.

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.

Ramaphosa, 65, was elected unopposed as Zuma’s permanent successor by parliament, and sworn into the post by South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who had earlier read out the former president’s resignation letter.

The rand, which has gained ground whenever Zuma ran into political turbulence, soared to a near three-year high against the dollar on word of his resignation.

South Africa’s main stock market index jumped nearly 4 percent and headed for its biggest one-day gain in more than two years as investors hailed Zuma’s exit after nine years in office rife with allegations of sleaze and economic mismanagement.

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