South African deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said the government has begun tackling the corruption that had become pervasive in the state and will ensure that all those found to be responsible are held to account.
“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.”
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. The rand has strengthened more against the dollar than any other currency since he won control of the ANC.
“The discussions I’m having with investors have been very positive,” Ramaphosa said. “Their level of confidence is going up. They can see we have very serious about dealing with corruption,” boosting the economy and providing policy certainty, he said.