South African parliament elects Cyril Ramaphosa unopposed as president

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South African lawmakers on Wednesday re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the nation’s president, two weeks after the ruling ANC party returned to power in legislative elections.

Ramaphosa was “duly elected president of the Republic of South Africa,” chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng told parliament after Ramaphosa was the only name nominated by lawmakers in Cape Town.

Under South Africa’s 1996 constitution, electors vote for a party, and the party selects individuals who go to the National Assembly, which then chooses the head of state.

MPs from the African National Congress, which won 230 out of 400 seats on May 8, choose the head of state in the parliament’s first post-election sitting.

The ANC won the ballot with 57.5 percent of the vote, its thinnest majority since the end of apartheid.

Ramaphosa will be sworn in on Saturday and name a deputy president and cabinet at the weekend.

Ramaphosa’s influential deputy David Mabuza put off taking up his seat to address accusations he had brought the ruling party into disrepute.

Mabuza’s exclusion is a reminder of the scandals that have damaged the ANC’s popularity and brought down Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma, who was removed from power by the party last year and now faces prosecution for graft.

Mabuza, the former premier of Mpumalanga, a coal-producing north-eastern province, has struggled to shrug off longstanding allegations of corruption there. A report by the ANC’s Integrity Commission suggested he had brought the party into disrepute.

“The deputy president has indicated he would like to have an opportunity to address… these allegations,” said Ramaphosa in an ANC statement. “The deputy president believes that the ANC as a governing party should advance the electoral mandate in an environment of public trust.”

Mabuza played a key role in ensuring Ramaphosa was elected in a tight contest to take over from Zuma as party leader, which led to Ramaphosa replacing Zuma as president in February 2018.

Since replacing Zuma, Ramaphosa has pledged to fight corruption, reform struggling state-owned companies and revive a sclerotic economy. But he has struggled to enact reforms in the face of opposition from party rivals.

Ramaphosa, 66, is a trade unionist who played a prominent part in the struggle against white minority rule before becoming a successful businessman after the end of apartheid.

He will serve his first full five-year term since taking over last year from Jacob Zuma who was forced out over a series of corruption scandals.

Ramaphosa’s first test as he starts his new term will be his choice of a cabinet — a task beset by rival factions within the ANC. – AFP/Reuters

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