Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa said he would work hard “not to disappoint the people of South Africa”.
Ramaphosa, made the pledge in brief remarks after he was elected President by parliament on Thursday, the day after the resignation of Jacob Zuma.
“The issues that you have raised, issues that have to do with corruption, issues of how we can straighten out our state-owned enterprises and how we deal with state capture are issues that are on our radar screen,” he said.
Ramaphosa also pledged to tackle endemic corruption after Zuma resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress.
Ramaphosa, who will be president until elections 2019, faces an uphill battle to earn back public and investor support.
Experts said Africa’s most developed economy needs faster economic growth if it is to reduce high unemployment – currently at 27 per cent – and alleviate persistent, widespread poverty that aggravates inequality and stokes instability.
The 75-year-old Zuma said in a 30-minute farewell address to the nation he disagreed with the way the ANC had thrust him toward an early exit after Ramaphosa replaced him as party president, but would accept its orders.
“Zuma did the right thing to resign. Yes, let’s see what Ramaphosa is having for us, thank you,” said Hlengiwe Mswazi, an office worker in the capital Pretoria.
Tshepo Kgobane, also in Pretoria, said: “So it is a good thing that he resigned. We must have a party, a big party, we must throw a party because he resigned. We wanted to see that.”
Zuma bowed out hours after police raided the luxury home of the Gupta family, the Indian-born billionaire allies of the former president, who have been at the centre of corruption accusations against Zuma and his circle for years.
Zuma and the Guptas have always denied wrongdoing.
Julius Malema, leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led his party in a mass walkout from parliament on Thursday, saying it would not take part in the election of a new president so as not to legitimize an ANC candidate.
The EFF, which has six per cent of the seats in parliament, had sponsored a no-confidence motion in Zuma that would have gone ahead had Zuma not jumped.
The foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late anti-apartheid icon and first black South African president Nelson Mandela said Zuma’s departure brought to an end “a painful era for the country”.
South African police said officers had arrested eight people so far in its investigations into high-echelon influence-peddling revolving around the Gupta family.
Chief prosecutor Shaun Abrahams declared Ajay Gupta, one of the three Gupta brothers, a “fugitive from justice” after he failed to hand himself in. Abrahams provided no further details.