South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to revive a flagging economy, restore investor confidence, create millions of new jobs and crack down on the corruption that damaged the country under the rule of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
“We should put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders,” Ramaphosa, 65, said in his first state-of the-nation address to parliament in Cape Town on Friday, a day after he was sworn in as the nation’s fifth post-apartheid leader. “We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.”
A lawyer and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, Ramaphosa took office after winning a power battle with Zuma, whose nine-year tenure was marred by scandal and policy missteps. With just over a year to go until national elections, he will have to act decisively to convince voters of his determination to rebuild an economy that’s expected to expand just 1.4 percent this year, slash a 27 percent unemployment rate and tackle endemic corruption.
Among Ramaphosa’s most pressing priorities will be to select a deputy president, a post he’d occupied since May 2014, and reshuffle the Zuma-appointed cabinet. With the national budget due to be presented to Parliament on Feb. 21, investors will be watching to see if he retains Malusi Gigaba as finance minister.
Ramaphosa made no mention of planned changes in his address, but hinted that he may trim the size of the cabinet. Read more on this here.