Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected again as South African president

The new government of national unity combines Ramaphosa's ANC, the centre-right DA and smaller parties.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.File photo | AFP

JOHANNESBURG: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been reelected by lawmakers for a second term after his African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance struck a historic deal to form a coalition government by setting aside their rivalry.

Ramaphosa's ANC lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in last month's elections. It got 40 per cent of the vote, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) came second with 22 per cent.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
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The new government of national unity combines Ramaphosa's ANC, the centre-right DA and smaller parties.

Ramaphosa, 71, easily won the vote against Julius Malema, leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on late Friday.

Ramaphosa got 283 votes and Malema just 44.

Parliament earlier in the day also elected Thoko Didiza of the ANC as Speaker and Annelie Lotriet of the DA as Deputy Speaker. Ramaphosa is expected to announce his new Cabinet after his inauguration on Wednesday.

In his victory speech, Ramaphosa hailed the new coalition, and said voters expected the leaders to "act and to work together for the good of everyone in our country".

His election, which ended days of speculation, came close to midnight on Friday with last-minute inter-party discussions to establish a government of national unity (GNU).

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
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The Parliament session witnessed frequent interruptions and long voting processes.

The ANC teamed up with the largely-white DA, and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which came fifth, as well as the minority party Patriotic Front (PF), drawing mixed reactions from both members of their respective parties and citizens.

Some welcomed the alliance as a new era in South African politics which would send a strong message of reconciliation and bolster the ailing economy, especially after Mkhonto we Sizwe (MK) - the new party started by ousted former president Jacob Zuma - and the EFF, which came fourth, refused to work with the DA.

Others said the ANC had sold out the citizens of the country by partnering with the DA, which had been the official opposition and opposed several ANC policies since the latter first came to power under Nelson Mandela in 1994.

The GNU partners however were unanimous that the coalition was in the interests of the people of South Africa. "We were voted for by six million people who want us to continue the transformational agenda to changing the lives of the people for the better," ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula said at a media conference as the voting inside Parliament continued.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
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He conceded that the ANC could not do it alone. We are in no position to govern this country alone. We need to work with others, Mbalula added.

IFP spokesperson Inkosi Mzamo Buthelezi said that the party had agreed to vote for the candidates proposed by the ANC. As leaders, the people of this country entrusted us and it is up to the 400-member who are in the house to decide as to how they take the country forward.

"I'm just excited that South Africa has been put first by our leaders," said PF leader Gayton McKenzie.

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