South African President Cyril Ramaphosa promised Thursday evening, during his annual address to the nation, the imminent end of the power cuts which are plaguing the continent’s largest industry, just a few months before the next elections.
In a black suit and red tie, he did not directly mention the elections, which could be organized in May, nor specify their date. South Africans must go to the polls to renew their Parliament, which will choose the next president.
Mr. Ramaphosa, as he has been doing for months, recalled the progress made since the end of apartheid and the coming to power thirty years ago of the African National Congress (ANC), still in power.
Without naming him, Ramaphosa strongly attacked his predecessor, saying that the “greatest damage” caused to the country after democracy was inflicted by the period of massive corruption which marked the reign of former president Jacob Zuma (2009-2018).
Last month, Zuma, 81, was suspended from the ANC after announcing in December that he would support a new breakaway party called uMkhonto We Sizwe (MK), which threatens to take votes from the ruling party.
Election deadlines in sight
“For ten years, individuals at the highest levels of government conspired with private individuals to take control and redirect state-owned enterprises, law enforcement agencies, and other public institutions,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
Of the “billions of rands”, or tens of millions, “that were supposed to meet the needs of ordinary South Africans have been stolen”he recalled.
As crucial elections approach, at the end of which the ANC could remain in power thanks to a coalition but would lose the absolute majority according to all opinion polls, he praised the merits of the ANC, in particular to have brought democracy to South Africa.
He listed some of the achievements of the past three decades, including the social assistance and economic development programs that have helped lift many South Africans out of poverty. However, the country remains the most unequal in the world, according to the World Bank.
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