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South Africa leadership urged to take right economic
decisions to avoid universal junk status       

JOHANNESBURG  South Africa (Xinhua) -- There is still possibility for South Africa to avoid universal junk status if the right economic decisions are taken by the country’s new leadership, a local senior economist said on Thursday.

North-West University School of Business and Governance Professor Raymond Parsons said the departure of President Jacob Zuma and the anticipated accession of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa “paves way for better economic prospects” for the country.

Zuma resigned on Wednesday evening after being recalled by his party on Tuesday.

Zuma’s resignation marks the end of a period of “political and policy uncertainty” in the country regarded as Africa’s economic powerhouse, Parsons said in Johannesburg.

The change in the top leadership of government creates the prospect of higher economic growth and employment, supported by policies which are growth-oriented, rather than patronage-driven, Parsons said.

“Policy certainty needs to be restored to the economy. This could be cumulative, just as its decline has been, and therefore beginning the process through political change is half the battle,” Parsons said.

Parsons said it is now “still possible” for South Africa to avoid universal junk status if the right decisions are taken to stabilize the country’s public finances and promote growth in the forthcoming budget expected on February 21.

“A credible budget needs to rest on the foundations of new leadership and political stability if the economy is to be successfully turned around,” he said.

He said state capture and widespread corruption have sapped South Africa’s economic performance, hence much higher growth and investment levels are necessary if South Africa is to successfully address the continuing challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

The country’s rand has continued to react favourably to the latest political outcomes which, “if sustained, will reduce inflation as well as inflationary expectations,” Parsons said. This might encourage the South African Reserve Bank to lower interest rates later this year, he added.

The latest political developments could now restore business confidence in ways which might lift South Africa’s growth rate closer to 2 percent in 2018/19.

With new political leadership has come new hope but it needs to be backed by real reforms which will boost SA’s economic performance sooner rather than later, he said.



Profile: South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- Cyril Ramaphosa, the fifth and current president of South Africa, took office Thursday in a parliamentary vote. He is preceded by Jacob Zuma, who announced his immediate resignation late Wednesday on orders from the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Below is the profile of the new president.

While running for deputy president of the ANC last year, Ramaphosa advocated anti-corruption, building a clean government, and prioritizing economic growth, job creation, education promotion and land reform.

Ramaphosa was born in Soweto, Johannesburg on Nov. 17, 1952, as the second of three children in his family. In the 1970s, he was imprisoned many times for his crusade against apartheid.

After obtaining his degree in law, Ramaphosa joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) as an advisor in the legal department in 1981, and became the first secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers a year later.

He was elected as the first Secretary General of the ANC in 1991, became head of the negotiation team of the ANC to negotiate the end of apartheid with the National Party government, and participated in the drafting of the South African constitution.

On Dec. 17, 2012, he was elected as deputy president of the ANC, and served as the deputy president of South Africa from 2014 to 2018.

Among other positions, Ramaphosa is known to be one of the richest people in South Africa, with an estimated net worth of more than 450,000,000 U.S. dollars. He has appeared in news media such as Forbes Africa and Bloomberg.


South Africa parliament elects Cyril Ramaphosa as president

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, was elected Thursday by the National Assembly to be the nation’s new president.

The election came after former president Jacob Zuma announced his resignation on Wednesday night. Ramaphosa also becomes the fifth democratic president of the Republic of South Africa.

“I would like to thank all members of this Assembly for the honour you have bestowed on me to serve my people. This is truly a humbling experience,” Ramaphosa said when addressing the house after the election.

He pledged to “execute that task with humility and dignity”.

The election of the president will make way for the State of the Nation Address to be delivered on Friday.

The South Africa speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete commended former president Jacob Zuma for his work, and wished him and his family well in “his future endeavours”. She also thanked the people of South Africa “for their patience.”

“Cyril Ramaphosa, I wish you all the best, but I will see you in 2019 on the ballot boxes,” said Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition party, Democratic Alliance.

In response, Ramaphosa delivered a minor rebuke to Maimane. He said amid ANC caucus applause, Maimane should consider leaving talk of 2019 aside and focus on working together now. “This shouldn’t be an opportunity to grandstand,” he said.

Ramaphosa said he will outline steps on Friday during the SONA to deal with corruption and state capture.


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