JOHANNESBURG – South African President-elect Cyril Ramaphosa has taken steps to crack down on corruption Wednesday as the country’s new parliament voted him to lead the country for a five-year term.
South Africa’s lawmakers were sworn into the legislative body in Cape Town following elections earlier this month in which Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress party won a 57.5% majority. They then elected Ramaphosa.
In a sign that Ramaphosa is following up on his campaign promises to rid his party and government of corruption, the country’s current deputy president, David Mabuza, was not sworn into parliament Wednesday.
Ramaphosa announced that Mabuza’s investiture to parliament was delayed because of an incriminating report on him by the ANC’s Integrity Commission, which alleges he brought the party into disrepute. The commission probes allegations of wrongdoing within the party and maintains that ANC leaders should step down from leadership positions while facing disciplinary proceedings.
Other notable ANC leaders not sworn into parliament include two former Cabinet ministers Nomvula Mokonyane and Malusi Gigaba. They have both been implicated by whistleblowers at a government commission probing allegations of graft during former president Jacob Zuma’s term of office.
“We will have a government that is accountable,” said Ramaphosa, accepting his election in parliament. “We have a great responsibility to be accountable to the people of the country.” He said he is prepared to make “tough decisions” and boost economic growth and create jobs.
“The people voted for change, and change is what you are going to see,” said Ramaphosa.
By taking out suspect members of parliament, Ramaphosa is clearly working on the “integrity ticket” that helped him to win the election, said political analyst and researcher at the University of Western Cape’s Centre for Humanities Research, Ralph Mathekga.
However, Ramaphosa should not sideline too many leaders who could turn against him in the ANC’s often murky internal politics, he said.
“It may be a short victory to appease people who want to see him cleaning up government,” said Mathekga. “He should be careful not to find himself sidelining potential allies like Mabuza, who may be strong allies for him against a faction that is opposed to him in the ANC’s party politics.”
South Africa’s president is not elected directly by voters but is chosen by the parliament. The number of votes each party receives in the national election determines how many representatives the parties have in the 400-seat legislature. The members of parliament then elect the president.
Ramaphosa’s ANC has 230 seats in South Africa’s sixth democratic parliament since the fall of apartheid in 1994. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has 84 seats and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters has 44 seats.
Ramaphosa will be inaugurated as president at a stadium in Pretoria on Saturday and he is expected to announce his new Cabinet the next day. The Cabinet will be a litmus test of Ramaphosa’s commitment to cleaning up corruption, say analysts. Local media reports suggest there are moves within the ANC to have a female candidate appointed as new deputy president.
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