JOHANNESBURG: Cyril Ramaphosa was on Thursday elected unopposed in the National Assembly as South Africa’s new president, hours after longtime president Jacob Zuma resigned.
The announcement was welcomed by singing in the National Assembly. The 65-year-old leader was elected as the new President of the African National Congress (ANC) two months ago.
Zuma (75) stepped down late on Wednesday night after he was ordered by the ANC’s national leadership to quit or face a no confidence motion in Parliament. The ANC has a large majority in the parliament.
Opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party members walked out of the parliament in protest during the debate.
Ramaphosa, a wealthy former businessman serving as the leader of the ruling ANC party since December, was the only candidate nominated for the president’s post. “I truly feel humbled to have been given this great privilege of being able to serve our people,” Ramaphosa told members of parliament after his election.
“I will try to work very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa,” he said, adding that he will act as a “servant of our people”.
Earlier, 75-year-old Zuma last night stepped down after he was ordered by the ANC’s national leadership to quit or face a no confidence emotion in Parliament. His resignation ended an impasse with his ruling ANC party, which was planning to side with opposition parties in Parliament to oust the embattled leader through a motion of no confidence.
“I resign as President of the Republic (of South Africa) with immediate effect,” Zuma said in a televised address, ending a nine-year tenure before his second and final term of office which was scheduled to end with national elections in 2019. But he remained adamant that the decision of the ANC to replace him with Ramaphosa was “wrong”.
“I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, (but) I have always been a disciplined member of the organisation,” Zuma said.