CAPE TOWN – It’s official. South African lawmakers on Wednesday elected Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa as SA’s president in the first sitting of parliament since the ruling African National Congress (ANC) won a majority of parliamentary seats in the election earlier this month.
Ramaphosa, who is also the leader of the ANC, was elected unopposed by lawmakers in parliament’s National Assembly lower house ahead of his inauguration on Saturday, in a meeting which was filled with positivity and a sense of hope and a ‘new dawn’ for South Africa.
In a statement Wednesday evening, the ANC said the unanimous election of President Ramaphosa by the National Assembly demonstrates the “full confidence Members of Parliament have in President Ramaphosa to occupy the highest office in our land”.
The President-Elect of the Republic of South Africa, Ramaphosa said in his acceptance speech:
I promise to discharge my responsibilities to the best of my abilities and in the interest of the people of South Africa.
Ramaphosa said: “I will seek to act and be the President of ALL South Africans, and not just the President of those who voted for the party that I lead… I will be a President for all South Africans and not just a president for the African National Congress.”
The ANC said it is also encouraged by the fact that all political parties in Parliament pledged their support to work with the President and the Executive he will appoint in the interest of the people of South Africa.
The ANC also congratulated Thandi Modise on her election as Speaker of the National Assembly and Lechesa Tsenoli as Deputy Speaker for the 6th Term of Parliament.
“The ANC hopes that the 6th Parliament will be characterised by robust debates and respect for the decorum of the House,” said the statement.
The ANC’s incoming Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina rose to nominate Ramaphosa for the position of President, just like Albertina Sisulu did 25 years ago to nominate Nelson Mandela.
Addressing the house, Ramaphosa emphasised collaboration, finding consensus and bringing about change.
He said despite coming from different political parties, all MPs have a common mandate to build a nation founded on the principles of social justice, solidarity and equality.
“All of us must see ourselves as holding the hopes and aspirations of our people…” he said.
“As for me, I commit myself to work day and night, to work very hard for the interests of our people,” he said.
Messages of congratulations
Shortly after the President’s election, opposition leaders took turns to congratulate the President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane wished the President great success.
“Lastly I would like to say, Mr President, that may this be a season of greater collaboration,” he said, adding that while they may have stood on opposite ends in the chamber, they are both patriots and dedicated to serving the interests of the people of South Africa.
EFF leader Julius Malema also congratulated the President, saying that when he sees him, he sees Winnie Mandela in action as he was among those who stood behind her when it was not popular to do so.
The leader of the GOOD Party, Patricia De Lille, said 25 years ago, the President, a “young man” at the time, he led MPs in drafting the Constitution and that he is now back.
She said that she hoped to see a government of integrity that will deliver better services.
She said she would like to offer the support and love of GOOD, but added that the love will not be unconditional as her party will hold him accountable.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Justice presided over the swearing-in of Members of Parliament in what was a marathon session.
Malema led fellow EFF MPs in a vosho ahead of taking their oaths or affirmation as members of the National Assembly.
MPs were called out in groups of 10 and among them, DA leader Mmusi Maimane, long-serving IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the leader of the GOOD party Patricia De Lille were called in at different intervals to be sworn-in.
Ahead of the sitting, ANC released a statement announcing that Deputy President David Mabuza had decided to postpone his swearing-in to address matters raised by the party’s Integrity Commission.
The ANC also announced that due to “family responsibilities and her being in mourning”, former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has informed the party that her deployment to Parliament be reconsidered as she would be unable to diligently and with commitment, fulfil her duties at this stage.
Other MP nominees who have withdrawn their names for various reasons include former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gibaba and former Speaker Baleka Mbete.
Sources: Reuters (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Toby Chopra), the ANC and SANews.gov.za
WATCH Ramaphosa presidency elect speech, South Africa
WATCH Malema congratulates Ramaphosa
WATCH Ramaphosa congratulates EFF leader Julius Malema yesterday in South Africa:
EFF CIC @Julius_S_Malema arrives in parliament for registration ahead of the swearing-in tomorrow. Upon his arrival he bumped into ANC President @CyrilRamaphosa who congratulated EFF’s performance in the elections, saying “jealous down”. pic.twitter.com/w6OQS87XrJ
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) May 21, 2019