JOHANNESBURG (AP) —South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has elected Cyril Ramaphosa as its new president, making the nation’s deputy president likely to become the country’s next head of state.
One of the nation’s wealthiest citizens, the 65-year-old Ramaphosa has styled himself in recent months as a reformer who will steer South Africa away from the corruption scandals that have hurt the economy and briefly sent it into recession this year.
As the head of the ANC, Ramaphosa will be the party’s candidate for president in the 2019 elections, which he is widely expected to win.
“Clearly, Ramaphosa has been the darling of the business community,” said Daniel Silke, an independent political analyst. As the party’s new leader, Ramaphosa will be seen as attempting to “revive prudent policy making in South Africa” and “stabilize the creaky ship of South African economy.”
That is no small task. South Africa’s economy dipped into recession this year, rebounding to 2.5 percent growth in the second quarter. Unemployment is rampant, hovering close to 30 percent, and the country is rated one of the most unequal societies in the world, where the top 10 percent of earners received 66 percent of the national income, according to the 2018 World Inequality Report.
Ramaphosa also inherits a party that has been riven by corruption scandals, deeply damaging the organization’s reputation among South African voters and creating stark rifts within the party.
Outgoing President Jacob Zuma’s second and final term as the ANC’s leader has ended after a scandal-ridden tenure that has seen a plummet in the popularity of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement.