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South Africa: Ramaphosa calls on ANC to fight corruption, deliver services

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged his ruling African National Congress (ANC) to fight corruption and improve the delivery of basic services to citizens, a day after he was re-elected as party leader.

“We have no choice, we either deal with corruption or we perish,” said Ramaphosa Tuesday, closing the ANC’s conference where he was reelected its leader.

”Corruption within our party is, indeed, a dire threat.”

He also acknowledged in his speech that “the failure of basic services in parts of the country has decreased the confidence that our people have (in the ANC).”

“We must pay attention to service delivery.”

Ramaphosa’s reelection as the party’s leader was a major victory following a spirited campaign by his rivals to elect former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

The ANC has been ruling the country since 1994, when the first post-apartheid election installed Nelson Mandela as president.

But in recent years, South Africans, especially those in poor townships and rural areas, have been complaining about a lack of municipal water, unrepaired roads, raw sewerage spilling into rivers and chronically underfunded schools.

Allegations of corruption and incompetence against the party have led to ANC’s worst election result in living memory.

In municipal polls in 2021, the ANC won less than half the vote for the first time since taking power at the end of white minority rule in 1994, largely driven by anger over poor service delivery.

A general election is scheduled in 2024.

‘Farmgate’

On Monday, Ramaphosa was re-elected as party chief despite a scandal dubbed by the media as “Farmgate”, to refer to the cash haul, which authorities discovered hidden on the president’s private farm.

Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing.

His victory within ANC now paves the way for him to run for a second term as president.

At the same time, he now faces the task of rebuilding support for the corruption-tainted ANC amid crippling power cuts that have hurt business and exacerbated rampant unemployment.

National Executive Council vote

Ramaphosa’s closing remarks on Tuesday came after the party began voting for leaders to its highest decision-making body.

The body has the power to remove party presidents. As of Tuesday afternoon  the results were still being counted and would be released later.

Ramaphosa must still cement control of the party by garnering a majority in the 80-member National Executive Council (NEC), whose election takes place every five years, as it could still cause him trouble if it houses many of his political enemies.

The cash scandal, however, remains a cloud over the president, who has challenged in court an investigation report that said he might have committed misconduct.

He has not been charged with any crime, but some opponents had called for his resignation.

It had also raised questions about how the president, who came to power on a promise to fight graft, had acquired the money and whether he had declared it.

Several probes, including by the police, the South African Reserve Bank and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, are ongoing.

Should any of the investigations find evidence against Ramaphosa, he could still face the risk of being removed from the presidency by the all-powerful NEC.

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