Thursday July 2nd, 2020 3:04PM

Ramaphosa set to become new South African president Thursday

By The Associated Press
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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's acting President Cyril Ramaphosa was poised to become the country's new leader in a parliament vote Thursday following the resignation of Jacob Zuma, whose scandals brought the ruling party to its weakest point since taking power at the end of apartheid.

With the African National Congress nominating Zuma's former deputy Ramaphosa as the country's leader, the 400-member parliament dominated by the ANC is expected to select him to finish his predecessor's term, which ends with elections in 2019. Ramaphosa will be South Africa's fifth president since majority rule.

Zuma resigned in a nationally televised address late Wednesday after the ANC instructed him to step down or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence that he would almost certainly lose.

The office of parliament speaker Baleka Mbete said Thursday that she had received Zuma's resignation letter making his departure final after nine years in office, 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 ANC said in a statement.

The new president also on Friday evening will deliver the state of the nation address that had been postponed during the ruling party's days of closed-door negotiations to persuade Zuma to resign.

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 the corruption that turned some supporters against the ANC during the months of growing public anger over the scandals surrounding Zuma, who has denied wrongdoing.

The new president is challenged with reviving the reputation of Africa's most prominent liberation movement, which fought the former system of white minority rule known as apartheid and took power in 1994 in the first all-race elections.

On Thursday the foundation of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, welcomed Zuma's departure but said the state must act against "networks of criminality" that have hurt the country's democracy.

As the country marks the centenary of Mandela'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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Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris

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