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New dawn for South Africa?

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New dawn for South Africa?

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The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa's new president has fueled huge hope for change, after nine years of economic stagnation and corruption scandals under his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

Sighs of relief could be heard all the way to Europe. South African singer-songwriter Jennifer Ferguson, a former MP for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) under Nelson Mandela in the 1990s, spoke to Euronews from her home in Sweden.

"There's a feeling of hope, of renewed energy. The scenes of the parliament bursting out into dance. It's the parliament I love," Ferguson said in a Skype interview.

"President Ramaphosa sits with an enormous responsibility now. First of all, to face and take ownership of the years that have brought us to this critical point, with Zuma and his support base and an ANC that betrayed some of the very basic, fundamental principles we struggled for," she said.

Ramaphosa was sworn in on Thursday (February 15) after the embattled Zuma resigned on the orders of the ANC.

A lead negotiator in the transition from apartheid to democracy and one of South Africa's most prominent businessmen, Ramaphosa took the helm early: general elections are not scheduled until next year.

He has pledged to tackle corruption, and investors have welcomed his election. There's hope he can help revive the country's sluggish economy and slash unemployment of over 25 percent.

David Lewis, Executive Director for the NGO Corruption Watch, told Euronews South Africa was experiencing great relief since Zuma's departure. He said he personally felt very positive about Ramaphosa's election, calling the new leader's public service record "outstanding".

"I think he represents certainly a marked contrast with Zuma... It's generally said that he was Mandela's favourite candidate to succeed him. So I have no quibbles with Cyril, I think he's definitely the best person to have taken this position," Lewis said in an interview.

"I think also we'll see at last the return to some serious policy discussion... Massive unemployment, rampant inequality, still very high levels of poverty: those are the kinds of things we need to tackle.

"Instead, over the last nine years, we've been preoccupied with questions of governance, corruption, maladministration - because that's what at the time seemed to be the most urgent tasks we had to deal with."