South African lawmakers on Wednesday elected Cyril Ramaphosa as state president in the first sitting of parliament since the ruling African National Congress (ANC) won a majority of parliamentary seats in an election earlier this month.
Ramaphosa, who is also the leader of the ANC, was elected unopposed by lawmakers at the National Assembly ahead of his inauguration on Saturday.
He tweeted after his election: “The people have spoken. We have a clear mandate. Let’s get to work”.
In his acceptance speech in parliament, Ramaphosa said he will be a president for all South Africans
He said he is “truly honoured and humbled to be elected to serve people of South Africa”.
“I will seek to act and be the president of all South Africans, and not just those who voted for the party I lead,” Ramaphosa said.
“I will be a president for all South Africans, and not just for the African National Congress.”
‘Honour, dignity and respect’
He said the composition of the National Assembly is a reflection of the will of the people.
“Collectively all of us who are here have a mandate to build a nation founded on social justice. They also have a mandate to revive the economy to create jobs to actualise hope so that people’s aspirations are met.
He also said there was a need to rekindle institutions that supported the country’s democracy.
He said South Africans expected a robust exchange of views in the National Assembly.
“They would like to see us dealing with each other with honour, dignity and respect.”
He said people do not want to see a house that degenerate into chaos and disorder.
The ANC easily won South Africa’s May 8 general election but its share of the vote fell, reflecting anger at corruption scandals and racial inequalities that remain entrenched a generation after the party took power.
The swearing-in of the lawmakers was overshadowed by the exclusion of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s influential deputy David Mabuza, who put off taking up his seat to address accusations he had brought the ruling party into disrepute.
Mabuza’s exclusion is a reminder of the scandals that have damaged the ANC’s popularity and brought down Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma, who was removed from power by the party in 2018 and now faces prosecution for graft.
Mabuza, the former premier of Mpumalanga, a coal-producing Northeastern province, has struggled to shrug off longstanding allegations of corruption there.
Another senior ANC politician, Nomvula Mokonyane, a former environmental affairs minister, also postponed her swearing in, with ANC officials citing a family bereavement.
Mokonyane had been nominated for a senior parliamentary position that entails holding the executive to account, but the ANC said it would now find someone else for the post.
Since replacing Zuma, Ramaphosa has pledged to fight corruption, reform struggling state-owned companies and revive a sclerotic economy.
But he has struggled to enact reforms in the face of opposition from party rivals.