In an ambitious and wide-ranging first state of the nation address, Ramaphosa vowed to revive South Africa's stagnant economy, tackle the country's dire unemployment rate and control spiralling government debt.

South Africa's newly-minted president Cyril Ramaphosa arrives to deliver his State of the National address at the Parliament in Cape Town, on February 16, 2018.
South Africa's newly-minted president Cyril Ramaphosa arrives to deliver his State of the National address at the Parliament in Cape Town, on February 16, 2018. (AFP)

South Africa's freshly-appointed president, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Friday hailed "a new dawn" for the country in his first policy speech after Jacob Zuma's bruising nine-year term came to an end.

"We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us, and a wonderful dawn has arrived," Ramaphosa told parliament in the annual State of the Nation address.

"Tough decisions have to be made to close our fiscal gap, stabilise our debt and restore our state-owned enterprises to health," he added.

Ramaphosa stressed that in the year when they commemorate 100 years of Nelson Mandela's birthday he will reinforce ethical leadership making sure all South Africans are free, equal by the law and share wealth of the country.

TRT World's Arabella Munro reports.

New South African President said the country faces difficult decisions ahead as it works towards reducing the size of its fiscal debt after years of weak growth.

The State of the Nation address is an annual mix of political pageantry and policy announcements, but the flagship event was postponed last week as Zuma battled to stay in office.

Zuma was forced to resign on Wednesday after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party turned against him, with pro-business reformist Ramaphosa sworn in as president only on Thursday.

Zuma reluctantly resigned, saying he had received "very unfair" treatment from the ANC.

Ramaphosa, 65, is a former trade unionist who led talks to end apartheid in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies