South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country has survived a “dark period” when corruption was rampant and is now focused on achieving economic growth and land reform to win popular support in general elections next year.
“We are moving from a very dark period of our recent history,” said Ramaphosa to international journalists, describing that his ruling party, the African National Congress, is working to root out graft. “We are in a new period now, we are no longer in a period of just sliding downward … now we are beginning to deal with corruption.”
Ramaphosa said for the first time that he intends to testify before the Zondo Commission which is investigating the extent of corruption under former President Jacob Zuma, who resigned in February amid mounting scandals and faces criminal charges.
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Ramaphosa, 65, rose to prominence in the 1980s as a trade union organizer in the struggle against apartheid, South Africa’s former system of racial discrimination. When he became president in February, many South Africans hailed him as a leader who could steer South Africa back to the optimistic days when Nelson Mandela led South Africa from apartheid to democracy.
However, nearly nine months into his presidency Ramaphosa has not found a quick fix to the country’s problems, including unemployment at 27 percent and inequality ranked among the highest in the world. South Africa’s economy, one of Africa’s largest, is in recession. More than 24 years after the end of racial discrimination, many South African blacks complain they remain poor and disadvantaged.