New S. Africa Leader to Address Nation

New S. Africa Leader to Address Nation

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) -- South Africa's new President Cyril Ramaphosa was preparing to give his first state of the nation address Friday to a country with high expectations as he vows to curb corruption that flourished under his predecessor.

Ramaphosa, elected by jubilant ruling party lawmakers on Thursday, returns to parliament in the evening to deliver the speech amid speculation that he might reshuffle his Cabinet to remove ministers associated with alleged graft at state-owned enterprises under Jacob Zuma.

The South African currency, the rand, has strengthened against the dollar since Ramaphosa's ascent, but the new president faces the long-term problem of sluggish economic growth and unemployment of over 25 percent.

Zuma resigned Wednesday, opening the way for Ramaphosa to become South Africa's fifth president since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

"I think it is going to be a new political era for South Africa, so every citizen will be interested in watching it so that they'll know what the future is going to be," said Xoliswa Makamola, a resident in Cape Town, where the speech would take place.

Investors will be watching as well, Makamola said.

"He must just make sure that he comes out positive, win the people over," another resident, Oracious Abrahams, said of the new president.

A lead negotiator in the transition from apartheid to democracy and one of South Africa's most prominent businessmen, Ramaphosa now leads a government anxious to shed months of political limbo and public frustration that weakened the reputation of the ruling African National Congress party.

(KA)