2018-02-17 03:00

SHAM? With opposition lawmakers boycotting his swearing-in, the new president faces tough challenges in restoring the ANC’s reputation


Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday became South Africa’s president with a message of clean government and inclusiveness, stirring the hopes of many South Africans that he could reverse a corrosive period of decline and division under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa, a lead negotiator in the transition from apartheid to democracy in the early 1990s, was elected by jubilant ruling party legislators anxious to shed political limbo and get the leadership of the nation back on track.

In an indication of the challenges facing Ramaphosa, the two main opposition parties did not participate in the National Assembly vote, saying it was a sham process because the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party was tainted by its association with corruption scandals during the Zuma era.

Even so, the 65-year-old Ramaphosa delivered a measured, conciliatory speech to lawmakers in a chamber that had been the scene of heckling and sometimes scuffles during appearances by Zuma, who resigned late on Wednesday after protracted discussions with ANC leaders who told him to step down or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence.

“I will try very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said soon after he was nominated as an unopposed presidential candidate and elected by his party.

He sa忠訓id the issue of corruption and mismanagem忠訓國際ent is on “our radar screen” and that one of his first aims is to meet rival party leaders, so that “we can try and find a way of working together.”

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presided over the parliamentary election, as well as a separate swearing-in ceremony for Ramaphosa, who had been Zuma’s deputy and in December was narrowly elected leader of the ruling party over Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

While Ramaphosa has consolidated his control of the ANC in recent weeks, he still faces the delicate task of removing compromised figures from the old administration as part of his anti-corruption drive while trying to avoid alienating ruling party factions that could try to undermine him.

He must also restore the reputation of the ANC, which fought apartheid and has been in power since Nelson Mandela

The country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, will work with Ramaphosa if he acts in the interests of the South African people, party leader Mmusi Maimane said.

“We will hold you accountable and I will see you in 2019 on the ballot box,” Maimane said.

While Ramaphosa welcomed Maimane’s offer of cooperation, he described the election warning as “grandstanding.”

Members of a smaller opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, walked out of the chamber before Ramaphosa’s election, saying it was illegitimate because South Africa’s top court had ruled that lawmakers failed to hold Zuma to account in a scandal over state-funded upgrades to his private home.

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