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Nation & World briefs: New leader of South Africa’s ruling party has daunting task

  • The newly elected African National Congress (ANC) President, Cyril Ramaphosa, takes a selfie after it was announced that he had won the vote at the ANC's elective conference in Johannesburg, Monday Dec. 18, 2017. Outgoing President Jacob Zuma's second and final term as party leader has ended after a scandal-ridden tenure that has seen a plummet in the popularity of Nelson Mandela's liberation movement. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Themba Hadebe

  • The newly elected African National Congress (ANC) President, Cyril Ramaphosa, after it was announced that he had won the vote at the ANC's elective conference in Johannesburg, Monday Dec. 18, 2017. Outgoing President Jacob Zuma's second and final term as party leader has ended after a scandal-ridden tenure that has seen a plummet in the popularity of Nelson Mandela's liberation movement. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Themba Hadebe


Monday, December 18, 2017
New leader of South Africa’s ruling party has daunting task

JOHANNESBURG — Cyril Ramaphosa, elected leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress in a tight race on Monday, now faces the daunting task of uniting a starkly divided party and reviving the tarnished reputation of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement.

The 65-year-old Ramaphosa, the country’s current deputy president, beat former African Union commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by a margin of less than 200 votes. As the head of the ANC, Ramaphosa will be the party’s candidate for president in 2019 elections, which he is widely expected to win.

In the run-up to this contest, he styled himself as a reformer who will steer South Africa away from the corruption scandals that have hurt the economy and spooked investors.

As the party’s new leader, Ramaphosa will be seen as attempting to “revive prudent policy-making in South Africa” and “stabilize the creaky ship of the South African economy,” said Daniel Silke, an independent political analyst.

That is no small task. South Africa’s economy dipped into recession this year, rebounding to 2.5 percent growth in the second quarter. Unemployment is rampant, hovering close to 30 percent, and the country is rated one of the most unequal societies in the world, where the top 10 percent of earners received 66 percent of the national income, according to the 2018 World Inequality Report.

Ramaphosa also inherits a party that has been riven by corruption scandals during President Jacob Zuma’s tenure, cutting into the organization’s clout among South African voters and creating stark rifts within Mandela’s liberation movement.

US blocks UN vote calling for Trump to rescind Jerusalem decision

UNITED NATIONS — The United States vetoed a Security Council resolution on Jerusalem Monday that called on all states to refrain from establishing embassies in the city.

The resolution, submitted by Egypt, criticized decisions that seek to alter “the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and called for them to be rescinded, but stopped short of naming President Donald Trump and the U.S. explicitly.

Trump earlier this month said the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would begin work to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The U.S. was alone in voting against Monday’s draft resolution at the Security Council, with the 14 other member countries voting in favor, including France and Britain, which are generally closely aligned with the U.S.

Nine votes in favor plus the support of all five veto-wielding members of the council were needed to pass the resolution.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called the outcome “an insult” and said “it won’t be forgotten.”

The rare use of the U.S. veto to block the vote was not an embarrassment, Haley said, but should embarrass the other council members.

Source: Associated Press and Tribune News Service