South Africa has a new president in the person of Cyril Ramaphosa. The former trade unionist was sworn in on Thursday as the fifth president of the country.
He took office after Wednesday evening resignation of his former boss Jacob Zuma. Zuma agreed to step down after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) threatened to impeach him via parliament later today.
The post of South African president rests with the party that has a parliamentary majority. The ANC recalled Zuma as its deployee to the post earlier this week, Zuma said he disagreed with the decision but opted to respect it in the interest of party unity.
RSA (@ParliamentofRSA) February 15, 2018
Ramaphosa was elected unopposed as Zuma’s permanent successor by parliament, and declared duly elected by South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
South Africa’s main stock market index jumped nearly 4 percent, putting it on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than two years as investors welcomed Zuma’s resignation after nine years in office plagued by corruption allegations.
The rand, which has gained ground whenever Zuma ran into political turbulence, soared to a near three-year high against the dollar on word of his resignation.
In his first speech to parliament as president, Ramaphosa called on politicians that ‘South Africa must come first in everything we do’.
The 75-year-old Zuma said in a 30-minute farewell address to the nation he disagreed with the way the ANC had thrust him towards an early exit after Ramaphosa replaced him as party president, but would accept its orders.
But the road back to prosperity and self-respect under Ramaphosa, who became ANC head in December, will be long and hard in a nation still polarised by race and inequality more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule.
Still, Zuma’s departure late on Wednesday provided evidence of the strength of South Africa’s democratic institutions, from the courts to the media and the constitution.
Ramaphosa’s first state of the nation address is expected to take place on Friday.