Cyril Ramaphosa, a former deputy president and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, has been sworn in as South Africa’s new president following Jacob Zuma’s resignation. In his maiden presidential speech, the 65-year-old Ramaphosa promised to tackle the issues of corruption that became endemic under Zuma.
An anti-apartheid hero and South Africa’s charismatic leader, Zuma had to finally resign from the office of the president that he held for nine years. Cornered by the opposition’s threat of a no-confidence motion in Parliament and under pressure from the dominant faction within the ruling African National Congress Party that has been trying to oust him, Mr Zuma was unable to survive this crisis despite having dodged a number of corruption scandals and court judgements against his rule earlier.
In a television address from the party’s headquarters Luthuli House, the 75-year- old veteran politician said, “I have come to the decision to resign as president of the Republic with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization… I have always been a disciplined member of the A.N.C”.A member of the A.N.C since 1959, Mr Zuma steadily climbed the ranks of the party by becoming a member of the military wing and subsequently the chief of ANC’s intelligence during the fight against apartheid. While he is considered to be a radical reformer who led ANC since 2007, many associate his rule with economic mismanagement and the spread of patronage system that weakened critical institutions of South Africa. Charges against him go back to an arms deal in the 1990s, and many cases during his rule where he was accused of laundering public funds for private interests.
His resignation followed close on the heels of a police raid on the Gupta family’s Johannesburg residence. The three India-born businessmen, the Guptas have had a long association with Mr Zuma who helped them gain billions of rand in state contracts. One of the Gupta brothers and four suspects have been apprehended under charges of misplacing funds from a failed state-funded dairy project.
The ANC’s fortunes suffered in 2016 when it lost the municipal elections of some of the major cities. In December last year Mr Zuma’s choice of party successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a veteran politician and his former wife, lost to Mr. Ramaphosa by a small margin. The A.N.C faction led by 65 year old former union leader and multimillionaire businessman, Ramaphosa, was pushing for an early exit of the President before the elections in 2019. With the majority of the party members throwing their weight behind the opposing faction, Mr Zuma decided to step down in order to avoid the no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which would have certainly been passed. Mr Zuma’s exit leaves Mr. Ramaphosa as the acting head of the state with enough time to prepare himself for the upcoming elections next year where he will be specially targeting the urban black middle class voters, who have in recent times been increasingly disillusioned with the ANC.
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