Ramaphosa Pledges Crackdown on Graft in First Speech as ANC Leader

  • South Africa’s new ruling party head thanks Zuma for service
  • Land reform will be done responsibly, Ramaphosa says
Cyril Ramaphosa Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Cyril Ramaphosa pledged a crackdown on corruption in his first speech as the leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress.

“Corruption has to come to a stop and it must happen with immediate effect,” Ramaphosa said in the closing address to the ANC’s national elective conference in the early hours of Thursday morning. “We must confront the reality that critical institutions of our state have been targeted by individuals and families.”

Graft has become increasingly rife in South Africa under Jacob Zuma, who has led the ruling party since December 2007 and the country since May 2009 and is fending off charges that he took bribes from arms dealers. The nation’s graft ombudsman indicated that members of the Gupta family, who are friends with Zuma and are in business with his son, had been allowed to influence the awarding of cabinet posts and state contracts. Zuma, who’s due to step down as the nation’s president in 2019, and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.

Ramaphosa didn’t directly link Zuma to wrongdoing his the speech, and instead thanked him for his service to the ANC. Zuma backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, his ex-wife and mother of four of his more than 20 children, to succeed him.

The ANC’s new leader reiterated the party’s resolutions to implement radical economic transformation to give the black majority a bigger state in the economy and provide free tertiary education. He affirmed the party’s decision to seize land without compensation to speed up land reform, but said it would only be done in a responsible manner that didn’t harm the economy, agricultural production or food security.

— With assistance by Michael Cohen

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