Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president of the republic of South Africa, unopposed by legislators in the National Assembly.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ramaphosa was one of 400 members of Parliament sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in Parliament.
Before the vote for president, MPs held elections for speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly.
The ANC nominated former National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise. As promised, the Democratic Alliance (DA) put forward its own candidate, Richard Majola, as speaker.
This meant parliamentary proceedings were suspended for more than an hour, while parliamentary staff prepared ballot papers for a secret ballot vote inside the assembly chamber. As expected, Modise won the vote comfortably, with 250 votes against Majola’s 83 votes. Returning deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli was elected unopposed.
In the build-up to the election of the president, the DA had intimated that it would put its own candidate.
“It’s our job as the official opposition to provide an alternative, that’s what we’ve been elected to do. The positions we contest tomorrow, it will be up to the caucus to decide that. But I don’t think that we can simply allow the ANC to have their way,” the party’s chief whip, John Steenhuisen said on Tuesday.
But it was not to be.
Ramaphosa was nominated by newly appointed ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina and seconded by ANC MP David Ntombela.
With no other no MPs being nominated, Ramaphosa became the president of South Africa, ceasing immediately to be an MP. In his acceptance speech, Ramaphosa assured Parliament that he will be a president for all South Africans, and not just those who voted for the ANC.
He also promised to raise the level of debate in the National Assembly, away from the chaos and disorder which had become a hallmark of the last Parliament.
“People want to see this house to be a House of robust discussion. But not a House of chaos, disorder and underpinned by disrespect,” Ramaphosa told MPs.
In response to well-wishes from opposition party leaders, Ramaphosa told DA leader Mmusi Maimane he looks forward to working with him.
“To fulfil the obligations of seeking consensus and collaborating to find solutions to our country’s problem. Be assured of our commitment to work with parliament, and work together with all political parties,” Ramaphosa said.
To Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who lamented Ramaphosa’s close ties to big business, Ramaphosa said he will not be influenced by any grouping other than the needs of South Africans.
“I won’t serve special interest groups. I have to speak to all South Africans and advance the interests of our people. Like Madiba, I will be able to walk with kings, queens, and captains of industry without losing the common touch of the masses of the people.”
Ramaphosa will be Inaugurated as president at a ceremony in Pretoria on Saturday.