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Jacob Zuma

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Jacob Zuma

South Africa

Eight months into his five-year presidency, Zuma has a tough job at Davos. Dogged for years by controversy over everything from allegations of corruption (which were ultimately dismissed) and rape (of which he was acquitted) to his divisive public comments on topics such as homosexuality and teenage pregnancy, Zuma must prove his statesmanship to win the respect of other world leaders. South Africa is emerging from its first recession in 17 years, but the rand's rise against the dollar is hurting exports and worsening unemployment. Zuma made his case in a Davos lunch session on Jan. 27 and during a Q&A on Jan. 28, calling South Africa "a candidate for even greater and faster economic growth." One big boost could come this summer, when South Africa plays host to the quadrennial, monthlong soccer World Cup.