Newly elected ANC president vows to turn economy around

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Cyril Ramaphosa celebrates after the announcement of results at South Africa's ruling party African National Congress (ANC) conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Dec. 18, 2017. The ANC elected Cyril Ramaphosa to be the party's president for the next five years. (Xinhua/Dave Naicker)

CAPE TOWN, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Newly elected African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed on Sunday to turn the economy around.

"We need to work together as social partners to focus on our economy by removing all the obstacles to investment and move South Africa to a higher level of growth," Ramaphosa said in a Christmas message to the nation.

"Despite progress that has been made in many important areas in 2017, we continued to see the devastating effect of unemployment on individuals, families and communities," said Ramaphosa.

With a sluggish economic growth, the unemployment rate has been hovering around 27.7 percent in the country, official statistics show.

"That is why, as we reflect on the achievements and challenges of last year, we must reaffirm our determination to build an economy that serves all our people," Ramaphosa said.

South Africans must enter the New Year determined to redouble their efforts to build a society in which all are safe, secure and feel valued, said Ramaphosa.

He urged South Africans to remain focused on building a better society by implementing the National Development Plan with energy as well as with great urgency.

Under this plan which is a blueprint for inclusive growth, social cohesion and prosperity for all South Africans by 2030, the country will continue to develop skills that can help the country realize its developmental goals and address labor market issues, said Ramaphosa.

"We need more skilled managers, professionals, technicians, engineers and artisans," he said.

Ramaphosa, also deputy president of the nation, was elected ANC president at the party's elective conference last week. He is set to succeed President Jacob Zuma after the 2019 general elections as the ANC holds an electoral dominance.

Soon after Ramaphosa's election as ANC president, the rand rose by 2.6 percent to reach 12.52 against the dollar, its firmest level since March 27, boosting the confidence of foreign investors who pin hopes on Ramaphosa for his resolve to fight rampant corruption and revitalize the economy.

"The signs of recovery are there and we must all do all we can to ensure that we turn our economy around," Ramaphosa said.

The challenges confronting South Africa are many, but the country has an even greater number of achievements to celebrate as the New Year is drawing near, he said.