Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected South Africa’s President

Cape Town: Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), has been re-elected by the National Assembly as the President for the next five years.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who presided over the first sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday, announced that Ramaphosa gained 283 votes to win the presidential election, while the other nominee, Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters, received 44 votes.

In his first address as the President-elect, Ramaphosa said he accepted his re-election as “a big responsibility” and will work with even those who did not support him, Xinhua news agency reported.

He noted that the results of the general elections, which were held in late May, have made it plain that the people of South Africa expect their leaders to work together to meet their needs.

“Through their votes, our people expect all parties to work together within the framework of our constitution and to work as political parties to achieve the objectives of a democratic society, based on non-racialism and non-sexism, based on peace, justice, and to ensure stability and also to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and to achieve prosperity for all,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa, 71, stressed that the government of national unity, which a number of parties have come together to agree on, is “not a grand coalition of two or three parties”.

“We are here now as directed by the votes that our people delivered, to work together to ensure that we address the challenges that they face. And this we shall do and this is what I am committed to achieve as the president of the Republic of South Africa,” he said.

“This is a historic juncture in the life of our country, which requires that we must work and act together to entrench our constitutional democracy and the rule of law and build a South Africa for all its people,” he added.

Under the South African Constitution, once elected as President by the National Assembly, the President-elect must assume office within five days. According to a statement issued by the National Assembly on Thursday, Ramaphosa will be sworn in on June 19 in Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital.

Also on Friday, the lawmakers elected the ANC’s Thoko Didiza, who previously served as Agriculture Minister, as Speaker of the National Assembly, and Annelie Lotriet of the Democratic Alliance (DA) as Deputy Speaker.

According to local media reports, the ANC and the DA, the main opposition party, reached a deal earlier Friday to form a government of national unity, which would also include the Patriotic Alliance and Inkatha Freedom Party, and as part of the agreement, Ramaphosa was expected to be re-elected President with the support of the DA.

In the general elections on May 29, the ANC secured 159 out of the 400 seats in the National Assembly, for the first time falling below the 50 per cent needed to maintain its 30-year-old outright majority in the lower house of parliament.

IANS

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