South Africa: This is an Era of Hope

Cape Town — Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the African National Congress (ANC), was re-elected as president of South Africa after a National Assembly sitting that started at 10am on Friday morning and lasted through midnight.

In his first address to the nation, Ramaphosa thanked the newly sworn-in MPs who voted for him for their trust, saying: “I intend to work with all members and indeed to work together with even those who did not vote for me.”

“We are all South Africans, and I want to serve all and work with even those who did not support me tonight. It’s not so much the result of the vote that was delivered, but the historic meaning of the vote and this moment that we find ourselves in that is truly significant. That a number of parties that had opposed each other but represent the majority of South Africans have decided to work together to deliver this result has given birth to a new era for our country. I do sincerely believe that. This is an era of hope. And it’s also an era of inclusivity, as diverse political parties who competed against each other in the election we just had,” he said.

Ramaphosa was elected after beating a challenge by EFF leader Julius Malema by 283 votes to 44 with the help of his new Government of National Unity partners which includes the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, National Freedom Party, the Patriotic Alliance and Freedom Front Plus.

Ramaphosa said voters “expect the parties for which they voted to find common ground, to overcome their differences, to act and work together for the good of everyone in our country”.

The stark reality of the results of our past election is that no single party represented in this house achieved an outright majority to work alone, legislatively and also at the executive level. Through their votes, our people expect all parties to work together within the framework of our Constitution and to work as political parties to achieve the objectives of a democratic society based on non-racialism, non-sexism, peace, and justice, to ensure stability and to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality, and to achieve prosperity for all,” Ramaphosa said.

He also responded to accusations that the new government is a coalition between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance: “I wish to state very clearly this is not a grand coalition of two or three parties. It is a government of national unity that we are constituting, and we’ve been here before. We were here in 1994 when we sought to unite our country and effect reconciliation. We are here now, as directed by the votes that our people delivered, to work together to ensure that we address the challenges that they face.”