JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged his party, the ruling African National Congress, to fight corruption.
“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.”
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.
Although he campaigned as a fighter against corruption, Ramaphosa has recently been dogged by scandal himself. He’s been facing calls to step down after a parliamentary report said he may have broken currency regulations by keeping undeclared sums of dollars at his farm.
Last week Ramaphosa survived a parliamentary vote to start an impeachment process. His reelection as ANC leader paves the way for him to run for a second term as South Africa’s president in national elections in 2024.
According to Ramaphosa, unity within the party is necessary to deal with South Africa’s daunting array of problems including nationwide power cuts of more than 7 hours per day and an unemployment rate of 35%.
Cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, one of the members of parliament who defied the ANC and voted in favor of impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa, may face party disciplinary action for his disobedience. After Ramaphosa’s reelection as party leader she said she hoped for a better ANC.
“I hope that the future can be better for the ANC, that it can be stronger and that it can be more responsive to the people, that we can serve the people better,” said Dlamini-Zuma on the sidelines of the conference. “I hope that the people can trust the ANC.”
The leadership race took up virtually all the time of the 5-day ANC conference and delegates did not have time to debate and adopt new policies. Nor has it announced the results of the vote to elect the 80 members of the National Executive Committee.
The conference will reconvene in January to finalize its policy reports, newly-elected secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said Tuesday. The conference experienced major delays during the registration of delegates.