Ramaphosa set to become new South African president Thursday

South African President Jacob Zuma addresses the the nation and the press at the government’s Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Zuma resigned on Wednesday in the televised address to the nation, ending a turbulent tenure marred by corruption scandals that sapped the popularity of the ruling African National Congress and hurt one of Africa’s biggest economies. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

South Africa’s acting President Cyril Ramaphosa is in charge as acting president until parliament elects a new leader Thursday afternoon following the resignation of Jacob Zuma, the government said.

The 400-member parliament, dominated by the ruling African National Congress party, is expected to select Ramaphosa to finish his predecessor’s term, which ends with elections in 2019.

Zuma resigned in a televised speech late Wednesday after the ANC, which has lost popularity because of corruption scandals during his tenure, instructed him to leave or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence that he would almost certainly lose. The office of parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete said Thursday that she had received a letter of resignation from Zuma, and that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng would be available to swear in the new president in parliament later in the day.

“The newly elected President will then address the sitting thereafter,” the ruling party said in a statement.

The new president will also deliver the postponed state of the nation address on Friday evening. Zuma had been unable to give the speech because of the leadership crisis.

The South African currency, the rand, strengthened against the dollar in early trading Thursday after Zuma’s resignation, which ended political turmoil that had stalled some government business. Ramaphosa has promised to fight graft, though he faces the hard task of rejuvenating a ruling party whose leaders had supported Zuma for years before finally turning against him.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation welcomed Zuma’s departure but said the state must act against “networks of criminality” that have hurt South Africa’s democracy.

On the centenary of the anti-apartheid leader’s 1918 birth, “there is a need to reckon with the failures of the democratic era,” the foundation said. “We believe that we are at a critical moment in our history, one which offers us the unique opportunity to reflect, to rebuild, and to transform.”



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