The new South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the citizens of the country to get set for what he called tough decisions that will be taken by his government to move the country forward.
In what was considered a sober address to the nation yesterday, Friday that sought to draw a line under the turbulent rule of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, the new helmsman said: “tough decisions have to be made to close our fiscal gap, stabilize our debt and restore our state-owned enterprises to health.”
President Ramaphosa who promised to make job creation a priority in 2018 also promised to fight corruption, which had weakened the state-owned enterprises in Africa’s most industrialized economy, and to trim a bloated cabinet.
He said that his government is committed to what he called “policy certainty and consistency,” in contrast to Zuma, who was criticized for policy shifts and unpredictable cabinet changes that rocked domestic financial markets and confounded investors.
The 65-year-old President, who was sworn in on Thursday after Zuma reluctantly resigned on orders of the ANC, declared: “this is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.
“We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people.
South Africa’s rand rallied soon after Ramaphosa started his address, trading near its three-year best.
Financial markets have rallied since Ramaphosa took over from Zuma as ANC leader in December, as investors warmed to his pledges to woo overseas investment.
He thanked Zuma for the way he had approached recent events even as he called on the party supporters to avoid alienating ANC members that are still loyal to the 75-year-old former president.
In a direct appeal to poorer black voters who are the core of the ANC’s support, President Ramaphosa said that he would aim to speed up the transfer of land to black people.
The new President said that he would pursue a policy of “radical economic transformation” that will speed up expropriation of land without compensation, but said this should be done in a way that increases agricultural production and improves food security.