Tuesday 24 April 2018

Cyril Ramaphosa elected South Africa’s president amid dissent in parliament

The ANC stalwart takes the helm after predecessor Jacob Zuma reluctantly stepped down.

Cyril Ramaphosa smiles while he listens to a debate in Parliament (Mike Hutchings/AP)
Cyril Ramaphosa smiles while he listens to a debate in Parliament (Mike Hutchings/AP)

By Christopher Torchia

Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected as South Africa’s new president by ruling party legislators after the resignation of Jacob Zuma.

Mr Ramaphosa was the only candidate nominated for election in the parliament after two opposition parties said they would not participate. The opposition parties instead unsuccessfully called for the dissolution of the National Assembly and early elections.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presided over the parliamentary election and congratulated Mr Ramaphosa, who had been Mr Zuma’s deputy and has called for a fight against corruption.

Mr Zuma resigned after years of scandals that damaged the stature of the ruling African National Congress party.

The opposition Democratic Alliance party will cooperate with Mr Ramaphosa if he acts in the interests of the South African people, said party leader Mmusi Maimane.

“We will hold you accountable and I will see you in 2019 on the ballot box,” Mr Maimane said.

Members of a smaller opposition party walked out of parliament before the election, saying the ruling ANC party plan to choose a new president was “illegitimate.”

Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, said ANC politicians had failed to hold former leader Mr Zuma to account for alleged corruption and had therefore violated the constitution.

Mr Ramaphosa is South Africa’s fifth president since majority rule started after the end of apartheid in 1994. On Friday evening, he is expected to deliver the state of the nation address that had been postponed during the ruling party’s days of closed-door negotiations to persuade Mr Zuma to resign.

Mr Zuma resigned in a nationally televised address late on Wednesday after the ANC instructed him to step down or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence that he would almost certainly lose.

The South African currency, the rand, strengthened against the dollar in early trading Thursday after Mr Zuma’s resignation, which ended political turmoil that had stalled some government business.

On Thursday the foundation of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, welcomed Mr Zuma’s departure but said the state must act against “networks of criminality” that have hurt the country’s democracy.

As the country marks the centenary of Mr Mandela’s 1918 birth, “there is a need to reckon with the failures of the democratic era”, the foundation said. “We believe that we are at a critical moment in our history, one which offers us the unique opportunity to reflect, to rebuild, and to transform.”

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News