South Africa’s parliament is set to choose Jacob Zuma as state president on Wednesday after his ruling ANC’s resounding election victory, capping his remarkable political comeback. After an eight-year battle with corruption charges that threatened to ruin him, Zuma takes on an economy that may already be in its first recession in 17 years, and challenges such as widespread poverty, crime and AIDS.

zumaThe new government is expected to leave conservative and fiscal policies in place in Africa’s biggest economy to cushion the impact of the global credit crunch and reassure investors who fear Zuma may steer the economy to the left. The charismatic former freedom fighter, whose graft charges were dropped just before the April 22 poll, will be inaugurated on Saturday and is expected to name a cabinet soon after.

Zuma has denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of a political conspiracy. The fate of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, widely respected by financial markets, will be closely watched by investors hoping for continuity.

Zuma, who headed the ANC’s intelligence department during the fight against apartheid, survived a bruising power struggle with former state President Thabo Mbeki that split the ANC and led to the creation of a breakaway party.



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