Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

South African president vows to purge ANC of ‘bad tendencies’

Cyril Ramaphosa said he wouldn't appoint leaders who want to fill their own pockets

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at a victory rally for his African National Congress (ANC) party in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa Sunday, May 12, 2019. South Africa's president on Sunday vowed to purge his party of "bad and deviant tendencies" as he prepares to appoint a new Cabinet following a victory in national elections. AP Photo
President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at a victory rally for his African National Congress (ANC) party in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa Sunday, May 12, 2019. South Africa's president on Sunday vowed to purge his party of "bad and deviant tendencies" as he prepares to appoint a new Cabinet following a victory in national elections. AP Photo

South Africa’s president on Sunday vowed to purge his party of “bad and deviant tendencies” as he prepares to appoint a new Cabinet after a victory in national elections.

The 58 per cent of the vote was the worst election result for the African National Congress, which has ruled since the apartheid system of racial discrimination ended 25 years ago.

The party won 62 per cent of the vote in 2014.

Low voter turnout of 65 per cent in the May 8 election reflected the frustration of many South Africans after corruption scandals around the ANC that led former president Jacob Zuma to resign last year under party pressure. Turnout was 74 per cent in 2014.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his first speech to supporters since the election win, said he would not appoint leaders who wanted “to fill their own pockets".

He told thousands of supporters in downtown Johannesburg that “we are going to end corruption whether they like it or not".

Revelations by a government commission investigating corruption, a process often aired live on TV for fascinated South Africans, “must be things of the past", Mr Ramaphosa said.

But he is believed to be facing a revolt within the party by his predecessor's allies, one that could surface in the coming weeks as he decides on the make-up of his new government.

Observers say South Africa’s economy, the most developed in Sub-Sahara Africa, would be further weakened if Mr Ramaphosa were removed by his own party. He narrowly won the party leadership in late 2017, weeks before Mr Zuma was pushed out.

Mr Ramaphosa on Sunday urged ANC leaders to not hang the party’s “dirty linen in public” and said the party must be renewed “so that we cleanse it".

In South Africa, the president and parliament are not elected directly. The number of votes won by each party determines how many representatives are sent to the national 400-seat legislature.

The president is the leader of the party that is given the most votes.

The ANC slipped to 230 seats in Parliament, while the main opposition Democratic Alliance now holds 84 and the populist Economic Freedom Fighters has 44.

The EFF gained ground in just its second presidential and parliamentary election, winning 10.7 per cent of the vote, up from 6.3 per cent five years ago.

Updated: May 13, 2019 08:40 AM

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