South African president to scrutinize political appointees’ lifestyle

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South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa, acting on a pledge to fight corruption, said on Tuesday he planned to screen the lifestyles of future government officials as he mulled the make-up of a new cabinet.

Ramaphosa, who was sworn in on Thursday after his scandal-plagued predecessor, Jacob Zuma, reluctantly resigned, told parliament he was working on a new government team and would announce changes at a later date.

It was not clear whether this heralded a purge of Zuma cronies from the cabinet.

Speculation though mounted about whether Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba would keep his job – something of interest for investors eying fresh opportunity with Zuma’s departure – though Gigaba was slated to deliver a key budget speech on Wednesday.

Zuma resigned on orders of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) after nine years in office blighted by corruption, economic mismanagement and disputed appointments which have badly hurt Africa’s most industrialized economy.

As part of his pledge last Friday to “turn the tide of corruption” in public life, Ramaphosa told parliament he would launch “lifestyle audits” of public representatives – background checks on whether officials were living lavishly beyond their normal means.

NO LAND “SMASH AND GRAB”

Repeating his message on land, Ramaphosa said he would not allow “smash and grab” moves when undertaking land expropriation without compensation – a policy he has promised to speed up the transfer of land to black people.

Two decades after the end of apartheid, the ANC is under pressure to redress racial disparities in land ownership where whites own most of the land.

We will handle it with responsibility. We will handle it in a way that will not damage our economy, that is not going to damage agricultural production,” he told parliament, referring to expropriation of land without compensation.