Ramaphosa Steps In, Delivers State of the Nation Address Friday

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• Pledges not to disappoint South Africans

• Buhari congratulates him

Ejiofor Alike with agency reports

Newly-elected President of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to deliver his first state of the nation address Friday barely 24 hours after he was elected in a parliamentary vote, a day after the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma.

In his brief remarks to parliament Friday, after taking the oath of office, Ramaphosa said he would work hard “not to disappoint the people of South Africa”.

He also pledged to tackle endemic corruption after scandal-ridden Zuma resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

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

Pretoria East Record reported that Ramaphosa would decide whom the deputy president would be after he has been sworn in as president Thursday.
Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile, said the party would move swiftly in parliament to get the work of government going again.

South Africa’s embattled former president, Zuma, resigned after intense pressure from his party.
In a televised statement, he said he was quitting with immediate effect but said he disagreed with his party’s decision.

The ANC had told him to step down or face a vote of no confidence in parliament.
Reuters reported that the 75-year-old has been facing calls to give way to Deputy President Ramaphosa, the ANC’s new leader.

Zuma, who assumed power since 2009, faces numerous allegations of corruption.
Earlier on Wednesday, police swooped on the Johannesburg home of the powerful and wealthy Gupta family with whom Zuma has close ties.

According to agency reports, Zuma began his speech by laughing and joking with members of the press, asking them why they looked so serious.
After paying tribute to those whom he had worked with over the years, Zuma said that violence and division within the ANC had influenced his decision to step down.

“No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have, therefore, come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” he said.
“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC. As I leave, I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served… all of my life,” Zuma added.

ANC issued a statement saying Zuma’s resignation provided “certainty to the people of South Africa”.
Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte told reporters: “President Zuma remains a principled member of the ANC,” adding” “the ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made.”

Zuma, a former member of the ANC’s military wing in the days of apartheid, rose through the ranks of the party to become president. He led the country for more than a third of its time after apartheid.
But he leaves office with several scandals hanging over him, and with South Africa’s economy in dire straits.

The road back to prosperity and self-respect under Ramaphosa, 65, who became ANC’s head in December, will be long and hard in a nation still polarised by race and inequality more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule.

However, 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.

In his brief remarks to parliament ahead of his first state of the nation address that is expected Friday, Ramaphosa said: “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.”

Ramaphosa is expected to make any changes to the cabinet after his address Friday.

In a related development, 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 four per cent 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 mismanagement.

Ratings agency Moody’s said it was closely monitoring developments in South Africa, focusing on the policy implications of Zuma’s political demise.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday congratulated Ramaphosa on his election.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the president also felicitated with the ANC and the government and people of South Africa, on the peaceful transfer of power, which he said resulted in the election of Ramaphosa.

Buhari saluted the leadership and statesmanship of the former president, Zuma, and wished him the best in his future endeavours.

He said he looked forward to working with the new South African president and an enhanced cooperation of the governments of Africa’s two leading economies.