South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has given his cabinet six months to deliver on key priorities as the governing party prepares to contest next year’s elections.
Opinion polls show the Africa National Congress risks losing the outright majority it has held since the country’s first multiracial vote in 1994, a backlash against rampant unemployment and poverty, an energy crisis and shoddy government services.
“We are not going to accept any excuses,” Ramaphosa said in his closing remarks to a meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee, its top decision-making structure, on Monday. “The priorities set out must be addressed” and executed, he said.
With about 300 days to go until the election, the ANC will begin the process of compiling a manifesto that sets out its key priorities should it win another five-year term.
The party is confident of winning about 11 million votes, the president said, which should be sufficient for it to retain power.
Ramaphosa, who took office in 2018 after the ANC forced Jacob Zuma to step down following almost nine scandal-marred years in office, on Sunday defended his legacy, saying he had to rule through possibly the most challenging period in the democratic era.
The systematic undermining and looting of state institutions that took place under the previous administration “really broke down the state’s capability in a variety of ways to the point that various state institutions could not function as they should have,” he told journalists.
“When you are leading in a situation like that, you do not immediately have a silver bullet. You do not have a wand to wish all those things away. You have to work at all those challenges painstakingly.”