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Zuma congratulates Ramaphosa, wishes new ANC leadership well

Zuma issued a statement on Thursday morning, saying he “heartily” congratulates Ramaphosa and wishes the new leadership of the party all the best in taking the country forward through policies and programmes of the ANC.

Former ANC president Jacob Zuma greets his successor Cyril Ramaphosa after the ANC's top six announcement on 18 December 2017. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has congratulated Cyril Ramaphosa and his leadership collective elected by the 54th national conference held in Nasrec this week.

Zuma issued a statement on Thursday morning, saying he “heartily” congratulates Ramaphosa and wishes the new leadership of the party all the best in taking the country forward through policies and programmes of the ANC.

Zuma has also thanked delegates for the outstanding discipline and determined manner in which they conducted themselves during the conference.

His message came as Ramaphosa vowed to stamp out corruption and pursue a policy of “radical economic transformation” that will speed up expropriation of land without compensation.

Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old union leader who became a businessman and is now one of South Africa’s richest people, is likely to become the country’s next president after elections in 2019, because of his party’s electoral dominance.

He has promised to fight rampant corruption and revitalise the economy, a message hailed by foreign investors.

“This conference has resolved that corruption must be fought with the same intensity and purpose that we fight poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he said in his maiden speech at the close of a five-day party meeting at which he was elected.

“We must also act fearlessly against alleged corruption and abuse of office within our ranks,” Ramaphosa said in the early hours of Thursday after a long delay.

Ramaphosa, who is South Africa’s deputy president, was elected the new leader of the ANC, succeeding President Jacob Zuma as party head after Zuma’s presidency became tainted with corruption allegations.

WATCH: Zuma: I never wanted to be president

Ramaphosa’s narrow victory over former cabinet minister and African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 68, is seen as a pivotal moment for the ANC, which launched black-majority rule under Nelson Mandela’s leadership 23 years ago but is now deeply divided with its image tarnished.

Ramaphosa paid tribute to Zuma in his speech, saying the ANC would be “united” despite a fractious campaign. Zuma had backed his ex-wife Dlamini-Zuma for ANC’s top job.

However, investors are concerned that Ramaphosa may not be able to push through policy changes because the ANC’s top decision-making group, known as the “Top Six”, was split down the middle, with three politicians apiece drawn from Ramaphosa’s camp and that of his rival Dlamini-Zuma.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)