JOHANNESBURG — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said tackling corruption and working to improve the country’s ailing economy had been endorsed by the ruling African National Congress party to improve its dwindling electoral support.
Ramaphosa addressed the closing of the party’s national policy conference on Sunday where he discussed what needs to be done to address the country’s challenges, including high levels of poverty, the 35% unemployment rate and the rise in inflation.
“The conference agreed that we must allocate extraordinary and militant measures to accelerate growing growth, create jobs and reduce poverty,” Ramaphosa said.
“We also noted with great concern the impact of the rising cost of living on South African families,” Ramaphosa said of the country’s 7.4% inflation rate.
The policy meeting, seen as a preview of her conference in December where she will elect new leaders, was attended by more than 2,000 delegates.
According to Ramaphosa, the delegates also expressed concern over the electricity crisis in the country, which has led to nationwide blackouts that have affected businesses and households, electricity utility Eskom not keeping the lights on.
Delegates supported the government’s efforts to deal with power cuts.
“We recognized that our economic progress requires a secure supply of affordable and sustainable energy,” Ramaphosa said.
“The conference endorsed the actions recently announced by the government to improve the performance of Eskom’s existing power plants and add new generation capacity to the grid as quickly as possible,” Ramaphosa said.
The party’s controversial withdrawal policy, which forces party leaders accused of corruption to resign from office, was approved by the conference despite some opposition from rival factions within the party.
Delegates from KwaZulu-Natal province who remain loyal to former President Jacob Zuma have argued that the opt-out rule is not applied consistently and is being used by Ramaphosa to silence political rivals.
The policies agreed at the conference are expected to be adopted at the national conference in December, where Ramaphosa will seek re-election as party leader.