South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the authorities are intensifying their attack on pervasive corruption in the state and are having “positive” discussions with investors about the future of Africa’s largest economy.
“The wheels of change are moving now and they are going to start speeding up,” Ramaphosa said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“Cleaning up clearly is going to be quite a mammoth task, but we have to start somewhere. Our people are clamoring for a clean government, and that is what we are going to give them.”
Ramaphosa, 65, was elected leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress last month, positioning him to succeed President Jacob Zuma, whose almost nine-year tenure has been marred by scandal.
While Zuma’s second term is due to end in mid-2019, the ANC has said its newly elected top six leaders will determine when he should step down.
“We have taken a view that this is a very, very difficult matter,” Ramaphosa said, when asked if Zuma would serve out his term.
“We have decided we are going to manage this transition very carefully. What we don’t want to see is him treated with disrespect. We will manage it so well so that it does not divide the nation.”
The rand has rallied on optimism Ramaphosa can bring in change and revive an economy that sank into its second recession in a decade last year.
It’s the best performing currency tracked by Bloomberg since he won the party leadership, trading stronger than 12 to the dollar on Wednesday for the first time in almost three years.
A lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, Ramaphosa has already shown his increasing influence over the government.
His office announced sweeping changes to the board of cash-strapped state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. on Jan. 20, including the appointment of Jabu Mabuza, one of Zuma’s most outspoken critics, as chairman.
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