South African legislators elected Cyril Ramaphosa president on Wednesday and he promised to create jobs and work for the interests of all citizens, not just members of the majority African National Congress (ANC).
The ANC won South Africa‘s May 8 general election, enabling the party to pick the country’s president, but its share of the vote fell to a post-apartheid low – reflecting anger at corruption and cronyism under Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma.
Many voters were also dismayed at the racial inequality that remains entrenched a generation since the former liberation movement took power.
“Only one candidate has been nominated. I accordingly declare the honourable Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa duly elected president of the Republic of South Africa,” Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said.
Ramaphosa, who is also the leader of the ANC, was elected without contest and will be officially inaugurated on Saturday.
The election of the former trade union boss turned businessman was greeted by applause from a packed public gallery and opposition benches, including the far-left Economic Freedom Front, which had a fractious relationship with Zuma.
“I will be a president for all South Africans and not just a president for the African National Congress,” Ramaphosa said. “We have been given this responsibility on an overriding basis to revive our economy, to create jobs.”
In a sign that Ramaphosa is following up on his campaign promises to rid his party and government of corruption, the country’s current deputy president, David Mabuza, was not sworn into Parliament Wednesday.
Ramaphosa announced that Mabuza’s investiture to Parliament was delayed because of an incriminating report on him by the ANC’s Integrity Commission, which alleges he brought the party into disrepute.
The commission probes allegations of wrongdoing within the party and maintains that ANC leaders should step down from leadership positions while facing disciplinary proceedings.
Other notable ANC leaders not sworn into Parliament include two former Cabinet ministers Nomvula Mokonyane and Malusi Gigaba.
They have both been implicated by whistleblowers at a government commission probing allegations of graft during President Zuma’s term of office.
South Africa’s president is not elected directly by voters but is chosen by the Parliament.
The number of votes each party receives in the national election determines how many representatives the parties have in the 400-seat legislature. The members of parliament then elect the president.
Ramaphosa’s ANC has 230 seats in South Africa’s sixth democratic parliament since the fall of apartheid in 1994. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has 84 seats and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters has 44 seats.
Ramaphosa will be inaugurated as president at a stadium in Pretoria on Saturday and he is expected to announce his new Cabinet the next day. The Cabinet will be a litmus test of Ramaphosa’s commitment to cleaning up corruption, say analysts. Local media reports suggest there are moves within the ANC to have a female candidate appointed as new deputy president.
South Africa’s economy grew an estimated 0.8 percent in 2018 after recovering from recession. Growth is forecast at 1.5 percent this year, but hitting that target could depend on how successfully the government manages the restructuring of debt-laden power utility Eskom.