President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE

Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged on Thursday to tackle endemic corruption after Jacob Zuma resigned on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa, in brief remarks to Parliament ahead of his first state of the nation address on Friday, said he would work hard “not to disappoint the people of SA”.

“The issues that you have raised, issues that have to do with corruption, issues of how we can straighten out our state-owned enterprises and how we deal with state capture are issues that are on our radar screen,” he said.

He also called on MPs to move away from the disorder that has come to characterise the National Assembly in recent years.

During a relatively cordial National Assembly sitting to elect Ramaphosa as SA’s new president, Ramaphosa pledged to work closely with all political parties to “improve the lives of our people”.

Ramaphosa was elected unopposed and sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who had earlier read out Zuma’s resignation letter.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete received a letter on Thursday from Jacob Zuma officially tendering his resignation as the president of the country.

Zuma announced his resignation as head of state on Wednesday night, following a decision by the ANC national executive committee to recall him. Zuma’s appearances in the National Assembly often sparked chaos with opposition parties challenging his presence in the house.

Tainted by scandal, Zuma resigned only at the eleventh hour of a deadline given to him by his own party following intense pressure.

“Tomorrow we will also have an opportunity to outline some of the steps we are going to be taking,” Ramaphosa said.

He is also still to name his Cabinet, an act largely expected by the investor community and those in the party.

“One of the things I will be seeking to do is to have an opportunity, which I started doing when I was appointed deputy president, to work with all political parties. I will start it off with having a meeting with leaders of all political parties so we can start working together,” he said in a brief acceptance speech after being confirmed by Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Responding to remarks by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, Ramaphosa said parties should put electioneering aside and “focus on working together to improve the lives of our people”.

“I do believe when one is elected to this position you become a servant of the people. SA must come first in everything that we do,” Ramaphosa said.

Maimane said that while the circumstances of Ramaphosa election were far from ideal for the country, the new president now had an opportunity to close the Zuma chapter and begin charting a new course.

“We wish him well in his new job. And I would like to assure him that he can count on our support and co-operation as long as he acts in the best interests of the people of SA.

“I have heard many people say, with much relief, that we can now finally shift our focus from the ANC’s problems to the country’s problems. And I agree, we cannot waste any time in attending to the massive challenges faced by our people every day. But this statement misses one crucial fact, and that is that the ANC is our country’s biggest problem,” Maimane said.

The DA also called for the dissolution of Parliament and for fresh elections.

Earlier, the EFF walked out of Parliament after Mbete refused to entertain the party’s call for its dissolution.

Mbete said the matter should be raised in a properly constituted motion.

EFF leader Julius Malema said the Constitutional Court had ruled on two occasions that Parliament had failed to fulfil its constitutional duties, “so none among us should emerge to stand for the position of president. Let’s go for the elections. Let the masses of SA choose a president, not elites here.” The EFF said that it would, however, attend the state of the nation address on Friday.

Investors hailed Zuma’s departure after nine years in office marked by allegations of corruption and economic mismanagement. Ratings agency Moody’s said it was closely monitoring developments in SA, focusing on the policy implications of Ramaphosa’s emergence as president.

The S&P Global Rating’s agency said SA’s sovereign credit ratings and outlook would not be immediately affected by the change of leadership.

With Reuters

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

 

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