Tendai H Manzvanzvike Foreign Editor
Analysts have welcomed the election by Parliament of South Africa’s former Deputy President and recently selected ruling African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa (66) as its fifth head of state and Government yesterday. Cde Ramaphosa was elected after former President Jacob Zuma (76) officially resigned on Wednesday night during a special broadcast that was beamed live on television.
The embattled Zuma bowed to pressure from his ANC and opposition parties to push him out.
He was due to complete his term of office next year.
According to a Times Live report, Chief Justice Mogoeng presided over the swearing-in of President Ramaphosa by reading out the oath of office for him to repeat.
The ceremony was attended by first lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe‚ Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete‚ ministers‚ deputy ministers and opposition leaders at Tuynhuis‚ the president’s Cape Town offices.
The Chief Justice congratulated the new president after he officially signed and sealed the oath of office.
In an interview with The Herald, Tanzania-based Zimbabwean political scientist and conflict mediation consultant Tafadzwa Mugwadi said, “It was highly expectable that the legendary relations between SA and Zimbabwe are going to rise to a notch higher given that the two new presidents have a lot in common having faced unbridled vilification by the then leaders.
“It’s an interesting tale of two vice presidents (Cdes Ramaphosa and Emmerson Mnangagwa), who rose against all odds and hurdles to rescue two nations, which had been captured by the Guptas in the case of SA, and the criminal G40 elements in Zimbabwe.”
Mugwadi said events in Zimbabwe and South Africa, “attest to the fact that Sadc has come of age in terms of peaceful management of transitions, and that Africa in its entirety must draw lifetime lessons from Zimbabwe and South Africa that power transfer can be done without unnecessary loss of blood.”
Another political analyst Godwin Mureriwa said, Sadc in general and Zimbabwe in particular, respect the universally accepted principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of any country.
“The will of the people is supreme and (former President) Zuma’s resignation was in the interest of South Africa. This is reminiscent of former President Mugabe’s peaceful exit here,” he said.
While welcoming the peaceful change of power, Mureriwa cautioned that South Africa “continues to sit on a time bomb if the issue of black economic empowerment is not urgently addressed.
Ramaphosa’s election was not without drama from the Julius Malema-led Economic Freedom Party and Congress of the People.
The EFF members who walked out before the election process maintained that the voting for president could not proceed unless Parliament was dissolved.
They also wanted to first react to Cde Zuma’s resignation statement: “The EFF therefore will not participate in the election of a new president, to replace Zuma because we do not want to legitimate anyone from the ruling party,” said Malema.
Cope leader Mosioua Lekota objected to President Ramaphosa’s nomination arguing that he had been found in contravention of his oath of office. He however did not boycott the process.
The election of President Ramaphosa means that he becomes the Sadc chairperson, a position that was held by former President Zuma who had taken over the rotating chairmanship from King Mswati III of Swaziland in August 2017.